The pristine white of Graham Potter’s pronounced teeth shone in each of the congratulations he dedicated to his players after completing the comeback against Borussia Dortmund yesterday. The man had just saved the sporting, economic and reputational disaster that the elimination of Chelsea in the round of 16 of the Champions League would have meant. For the first time since he took charge of Chelsea after taking over from Thomas Tüchel in September, Potter felt on Tuesday night that he had lived up to the expectations placed on him and the €600 million transfer project he has in his hands. . Dressed in a scarf in the colors of the team that gave him the air of a fan, Todd Boehly, the powerful American banker who acquired the club for about 3,000 million euros also showed off his yellow front teeth in the box.
Nothing to show off for the newly minted millionaire owners who have landed in the Premier League as the pageantry of the great Champions League nights ended with triumphs. In their megalomaniac investments there is a return part destined to consolidate their image as winners and builders of economic empires, challenging the devilish capital-risk pairing to the limit. Profiles like Boehly’s seem not to fear the most twisted randomness that a game like soccer can bring, where business fluctuates under the capricious premise that the ball enters or not. From what he said in the press room, this is exactly what Graham Potter was tormented before the all-or-nothing game he faced against Dortmund. “We had to respond against Leeds, we played a good game against Dortmund in the first leg, but we lost: nobody wants to hear that you played well, had chances and lost,” the English coach vented.
Having avoided the bump of not having qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League, the reality of the Premier League says that Chelsea is eleven points away from the fourth place that gives access to the next Champions League and that they have been eliminated from the domestic cup tournaments. The internal concern for this future in competitions was latent among the hard core of the booth. According to sources close to the locker room, the most veteran players have detected that the players hired between the winter and summer markets have not yet adapted to the demanding pace of play demanded by Premier League matches. Neither Mudrik (70 million euros plus 30 in variables), who has not intervened for two games, nor João Félix (11 on loan), nor Madueke (35) or even some of the more mature signings, such as the center-back Koulibaly (40 ) have ended up joining the frantic back and forth of English matches. Of the arrivals from foreign leagues, only Enzo Fernández (120) seems to have made the cut in the frenetic back and forth that prevails in the Premier League. The youth of the signings agrees with the line of work imposed by Christopher Vivell, the new sports director recruited from the Red Bull scout factory and pointed out as the man who brought Erling Haaland to Salzburg. The lack of competitive callous has also been missed and is explained internally as another of the points that have led Chelsea to only have won three of their last ten games in the Premier after the break for the World Cup in Qatar.
This lack of flight hours in many of the acquisitions already caused concern in the dressing room when Jorginho’s departure to Arsenal was confirmed and it was accentuated when Ziyech’s move to PSG was about to materialize during the last market window. This was not consummated and this had to do with the rejection by the team, which did everything possible to stop it. The resolution of the tie with Dortmund pointed in that direction. It was the most veteran footballers or the most adapted who were decisive. Wingers Reece James and Chilwell, Cucurella, Kovacic, Kai Havertz and Sterling carried the weight of the match.
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