Poor Graham Potter. The embattled Chelsea manager is enduring a Ranieri-esque experience at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues boss looks every inch the proverbial sitting duck, resigned to the inevitability of his sacking sooner rather than later.

Almost two decades ago, resigned to his fate as Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri described himself as a “dead man walking.” The Italian knew what was coming long before Roman Abramovich wielded the axe to put him out of his misery.

Speculation over the Italian’s future had been swirling non-stop from the moment Abramovich took over the club. The writing was on the wall for the affable Ranieri.

Whether the Blues won or lost, it made no difference. Ranieri’s last match in charge was a 1-0 win over Leeds United on the final day of the season, by which time his fate had already been sealed. Chelsea could have gone and won a trophy or two that season and in all likelihood Ranieri would still have been sacked. The new owner wanted a clean slate – a new manager, a squad overhaul and a new identity.

Ranieri would become Abramovich’s first managerial casualty, sacked despite guiding Chelsea to a second-place finish in the league, the club’s highest position in 49 years. His dismissal paved the way for the Russian billionaire’s first managerial appointment, the newly-minted Champions League winning Jose Mourinho. And what an inspired appointment that would prove to be.

Boehly plays Russian roulette

Boehly has come in and made an instant impact, sacking a manager who had guided the club to Champions League triumph a little over a year earlier and replacing him with a highly regarded coach who represented more potential than guaranteed success. It was a huge gamble, perhaps a gamble too far.

Thomas Tuchel’s axing was rash and expensive. Potter’s exit, which is looking increasingly imminent barring a spectacular upturn in fortunes, will cost the club a pretty penny too. The former Brighton boss signed a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. It’s a nightmare scenario for Boehly, but also an early test of his temperament as a Premier League club owner.

Boehly has stumped up nearly £600m on players in two transfer windows in an unprecedented flexing of financial muscle by a Premier League club. The American basically bought himself a new playing squad and a new manager. That was quite a statement of intent.

However, the new owners couldn’t have envisaged the way things have turned out. Chelsea’s season is stuttering and the Boehly reign is off to a stinker.

Champions League hopes in tatters

The Blues’ Champions League hopes look decidedly forlorn and receding with each match day. Their best bet for a ticket into next season’s premier continental club competition is by winning it this campaign. But first they must overturn the 1-0 Last-16 first leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund to book their place in the quarterfinals. Lose that and surely Boehly will be forced to pull the trigger, perhaps reluctantly – reluctantly because the owner must shoulder some of the blame for the situation obtaining at Stamford Bridge.

Capable but out of his depth

Potter acquitted himself admirably at Brighton to merit consideration when a top-four managerial vacancy became available. There is no doubt he is a capable manager, but one clearly out of his depth in the murky waters of the big pond that is Stamford Bridge.

Questions will be asked about the wisdom of appointing an untested candidate at that level to replace a decorated manager who had done little wrong. Tuchel’s end-of-tenure results reflected the problems associated with a club in a state of flux. The German was not afforded the kind of patience that has seen Potter remain in his job for this long.

Then again, Tuchel was not a Boehly appointment.

Potter’s last chance saloon

Surely Potter is drinking in the last chance saloon now. Major sports publications are already profiling every half decent manager in Europe and touting them as Chelsea’s next manager. Bookies are slashing the odds on the Blues incumbent as the next Premier League manager to lose his job.

Spare a thought for Potter, for whom Chelsea’s embarrassment of riches is proving to be a curse.

For all the money Boehly has spent on new players, the Blues can’t buy a win at the moment. The 1-0 home defeat to Southampton on Saturday was an embarrassing new low, the very bottom of the barrel.

This season is in danger of petering out as a total write-off, and at the rate things are going, forget the Champions League, Chelsea will do well to secure a spot in Europe’s secondary club competition, the Europa League.

Whether Graham Potter will still be at Stamford Bridge to survey the ruins of a shambolic campaign come the end of the season remains to be seen.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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