Chelsea have sacked Graham Potter after just six months in charge in a move that stunned the club’s players, many of whom first heard of it through the club’s public statement on Sunday night.
Potter’s staff, led by Bruno Saltor, have stayed on to take the team for Tuesday night’s game against Liverpool and sources said Chelsea do not have a permanent successor lined up to immediately take over. Julian Nagelsmann will be among the favourites to permanently succeed Potter, along with Mauricio Pochettino, who was interviewed for the job at the time the former Brighton head coach replaced Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea’s owners already know Nagelsmann’s agent well, having negotiated the sale of Timo Werner, whom he also represents, to RB Leipzig last summer. Laurence Stewart, the club’s sporting director, and Christopher Vivell, the technical director, also worked with Nagelsmann at Leipzig.
The dismissal of Potter means that Chelsea’s Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital owners have sacked two managers in less than a year in charge, having spent more than £600 million on players and with the club in the bottom half of the Premier League table.
Stunned and worried players contacted their representatives on Sunday, having only found out about Potter’s departure through the official statement.
The players who had been part of the defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday were put through a recovery session on Sunday and those who had not been involved trained as normal. But the majority of the squad were not given prior notice of what was to come before returning to their homes and found out via social media and the statement forwarded around the players.
One source said: “Most of the players had no idea until they saw the statement. People were asking who would be taking training on Monday and who is in charge for Tuesday. Virtually all of them were in recovery or training on Sunday, so they were shocked to find this out at home.”
Emma Hayes, the Chelsea Women’s manager, said she was “bitterly disappointed and upset to see any manager lose their job. I know Graham, so I’m sad about that.”
Chelsea had sent out a media advisory on Sunday morning that Potter would conduct his pre-match press duties on Monday ahead of the Liverpool game, but by afternoon the club had started the process of removing him.
He became the 12th Premier League manager to lose their job this season — two more than the previous record. It is understood Chelsea will not have to pay the full value of Potter’s contract, which would have been worth around £50 million with just over four years left on it, and he has not been put on gardening leave.
Saturday’s defeat by Villa, which pushed Chelsea down to 11th in the table, proved to be the final straw for the club’s owners, who had witnessed the game from the Stamford Bridge stands. Sporting directors Stewart and Paul Winstanley are said to have led the decision to make a change and were given the full support of co-controlling owners Boehly and Behdad Eghbali.
It was felt that with 10 league games and a Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid to come, something needed to be done to try to salvage the season and give an outside chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
The Daily Telegraph in London