Chelsea boss Graham Potter would already be sacked if Roman Abramovich was still owner, says Merson

Graham Potter would have been SACKED as Chelsea boss a long time ago if Roman Abramovich was still owner, claims Paul Merson… as he insists the main problem at the club is the fact there are too many players

  • Graham Potter is under significant pressure at Chelsea after a dismal run of form
  • The Englishman has so far been backed by the Todd Boehly-led ownership group
  • The owners have splashed out more than £600m since their arrival last year 

Paul Merson has claimed that Graham Potter would have been sacked as Chelsea manager a long time ago if Roman Abramovich was still owner of the club.

The Englishman has endured a tricky spell at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Brighton in September to replace the sacked Thomas Tuchel.

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Leeds on Saturday provided a slight relief for Potter, who has come under significant pressure at the club.

The Blues have won just two out of their 12 games in 2023, while they have also faced a chronic goal shortage – netting just seven times in 17 matches since the start of November. 

They currently sit in 10th place in the Premier League and are 11 points off the Champions League places, but Potter has so far maintained the faith of the Todd Boehly-led regime at the club.

Merson said the major problem at the club was the bloated squad the Blues are faced with

Merson said the major problem at the club was the bloated squad the Blues are faced with

Former Arsenal star Merson believes that if there was a different ownership such as Abramovich still in charge, Potter would never have been afforded such patience.

‘If Roman Abramovich was still there, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out, Graham Potter would have been a distant memory,’ Merson told Sky Sports.

In March last year, Abramovich – who was known to be ruthless when sacking managers – was forced to put the club up for sale after close to two decades as owner following sanctions imposed on him by the UK Government in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

After alleging that he maintained ties to Vladimir Putin, Downing Street subsequently froze the entirety of Abramovich’s UK assets, including Chelsea, forcing him to engineer a swift exit and wave goodbye to the club.

A Boehly-led consortium took over the club in May following a lengthy process in a £4.25bn takeover.

Merson believes the major problem at Stamford Bridge is Chelsea’s bloated squad following a £600m splurge by the new owners since they took over. 

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He added: ‘There are too many players at Chelsea. I don’t care who the manager is, there are too many players.

‘Potter hasn’t become a bad manager overnight. He’d fallen behind the eight ball straight away and that is part of the problem. 

‘When he [Potter] picked the team on Saturday that made it 70-odd changes [to the starting XI] already. 

‘We’re in March and he still doesn’t know his best team. That is so, so worrying. No Chelsea fan could name the team for Tuesday against Dortmund. It’s impossible. 

‘There’s no fluidity – it’s stop-start. You need partnerships all over the pitch and Chelsea don’t have that. 

‘Just because you put all of your best players on the pitch that doesn’t magically make a team. They’ve got to gel – that isn’t easy. 

‘People think you can put a lorry load of internationals on the football pitch and it’s going to go bang, wallop, crash. It’s a machine and you’ve got to get going from the back to the front.’

Merson claimed Potter would be a 'distant memory' if Abramovich still owned Chelsea

Blues co-owner Todd Boehly has so far shown significant faith in Potter

Potter has been shown faith by Todd Boehly (R) who replaced Abramovich (L) as Blues owner

Despite spending more than £300m in the January transfer window, Merson was also critical of Chelsea’s recruitment and believed many of their signings had been forced upon Potter rather than the 47-year-old requesting them.

He explained: ‘At Tottenham, Chelsea didn’t look like scoring a goal in a month of Sundays and an £80m player is sitting on the bench. You cannot tell me that’s his player. 

‘If you pay £80m for Mykhailo Mudryk and you’ve gone after that player, you’re playing him every single minute. You wouldn’t be making yourself look like a fool by saying I want him for £80m and then two weeks later deciding he can’t get in the team. 

‘It just tells you he isn’t Potter’s player. That’s why the manager is still there, that’s how I see it.’

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