Graham Potter has been told that it is time to put on his “tin hat” at Chelsea and that he must fight through the boos and calls for him to be sacked.
Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, the Chelsea co-controlling owners, have no plans to sack the head coach ahead of Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, despite just two wins in 14 Premier League games.
The defeat by Southampton last Saturday was greeted by loud booing and calls for Potter to be sacked, and there is a danger of the atmosphere turning toxic if Chelsea lose again to London rivals Tottenham.
But Potter is understood to have received messages of support from the board and a senior source said: “The message to Graham has been to put on his tin hat and fight through it.” It is understood that Boehly is due to be at the Tottenham game, and that Eghbali is expected to watch the games against Leeds United on Saturday week and Borussia Dortmund the following Tuesday, after the pair witnessed the Southampton defeat at Stamford Bridge together.
Potter retains their faith, and insiders claim the commitment of Boehly and Eghbali to the 47-year-old remains long term, and that the preferred plan is to allow him to complete the season and then have a full campaign in charge before making any further evaluations.
Whether that would be possible if Chelsea lost to Tottenham and calls for Potter to leave grew louder remains to be seen, but Boehly and Eghbali are understood to be hopeful that the opinions of his critics can be changed by performances and victories.
Boehly and Eghbali have spent more than £600m on new players since buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, but roughly half of that was spent before Potter was appointed and there is recognition that he has had less than a month to work with the January signings who were bought specifically for him.
Other than the dreadful run of results, Potter has come under fire for his team selections, having made a host of changes for the defeat by Southampton, and his manner on the touchline and in press conferences.
But The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Potter was advised by his medical team that Reece James, Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz, Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling would all risk serious injury by starting against Southampton.
The decision to follow the advice and rest James and Silva completely, while starting with Havertz, Mudryk and Sterling on the bench, has received the full backing of the board, who are impressed that Potter put the team and the players ahead of his own reputation. There is also backing from the board for Potter’s decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his Champions League and Premier League squads, despite Chelsea’s goalscoring problems.