Graham Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea head coach on a five-year contract last week; former Brighton boss' first game in charge is at home to Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday; Blues will be without injured duo Edouard Mendy and N'Golo Kante
Wednesday 14 September 2022 07:34, UK
Graham Potter has said he will try to create his "own history" at Chelsea after admitting the opportunity to leave Brighton for Stamford Bridge was "too big to turn down".
Potter left the Seagulls to join the Blues as Thomas Tuchel's replacement last Thursday.
Chelsea's stuttering start to the season under the German means they are two places and three points behind Brighton in the fledgling Premier League table, but that did not deter the 47-year-old.
Potter said: "We were happy, secure and at a good club but the challenge was too big to turn down. It felt right for me.
"I'll always be respectful and thankful for Brighton but this club is an amazing club. You only have to look at the tradition, quality, size, the ambition of the club to compete in the Champions League, to compete at the top of the Premier League. It's a completely different challenge to the one I've had.
"I'm very thankful for the ownership here putting their trust and belief in me to work with an exciting group of players, to be competitive and to put a team on the pitch our supporters are really proud of.
"I'm very excited to get going."
Potter was handed a five-year contract by Chelsea's new owners which, if he sees it out, will make him the club's longest-serving manager since Dave Sexton's seven-year tenure came to an end in 1974.
Fourteen different coaches were appointed during Roman Abramovich's 19-year ownership but Potter sees no reason to compare the Todd Boehly-led consortium with their predecessor.
"I don't like answering ifs," said Potter. "It's not fair to compare.
"The history of Chelsea and the previous ownership is fantastic. Our job is to create our own history, our own path."
A leaky defence, unwanted departures, tactical tinkering and an uneasy relationship with the owners all contributed to Thomas Tuchel's downfall at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has revealed the lack of a shared vision was behind Tuchel's shock exit last week and the Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb had no impact on the decision.
Speaking at the SALT Conference in New York on Tuesday, he said: "When you take over any business, you just have to make sure that you are aligned with the people who are operating the business.
"Tuchel is, obviously, extremely talented and someone who had great success at Chelsea.
"Our vision for the club was finding a manager who really wanted to collaborate with us. There are a lot of walls to break down at Chelsea and before, the first team and the academy didn't really share data about where the top players were coming from.
"Our goal is to really bring a team together, with the academy, with the first team, with the incremental clubs that we want to acquire and develop. All of that needs to be a well-oiled machine.
"The reality of our decision was that we just weren't sure Thomas saw it the same way we saw it. No one is right or wrong, it's just that we didn't have a shared vision for the future.
"It wasn't about Zagreb, it was really about the shared vision for what we wanted Chelsea Football Club to look like. It wasn't a decision that was made as a result of a single win or loss. It was a decision that was made about the right vision for the club."
Potter was speaking to the media on Monday for the first time since being appointed Chelsea boss.
The Englishman's previous public comments came nine days ago, in the wake of Brighton's 5-2 home win over Leicester that saw the south-coast side move into the top four, but he now finds himself preparing for his Stamford Bridge bow.
"It feels like nine weeks or nine months but it's been brilliant," said Potter. "The beauty of football and the beauty of life is you never know what's around the corner.
"Things happened incredibly quickly. I had some really intense conversations with the owners and quickly I realised they're good, intelligent people that have made a big success of life outside of football and want to achieve something here.
"It's a really exciting project and they have really exciting ideas about how to take the club forward. It felt really positive.
"It's been a whirlwind in terms of getting to know people, leaving Brighton, learning about the players and getting to know them. But so far it's been really positive and my first impressions have been really good."
Potter's first game in charge of Chelsea is on Wednesday when Red Bull Salzburg arrive in the capital on matchday two of the Champions League.
The hosts will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to Dinamo Zagreb last week - Tuchel's final game in charge - and will be doing so under a head coach who admitted he has never been to a Champions League fixture before, let alone managed in one.
"Off the top of my head, I don't think I have, no," revealed Potter. "Wherever we start, it's a heck of an introduction."
Potter does have credentials in European competition, though, having led Swedish side Ostersunds past Turkish giants Galatasaray and Greek club PAOK into the Europa League group stage in the 2017/18 season.
Ostersunds - who were in the Swedish fourth tier when Potter arrived - progressed from a group also containing Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin, and won at the Emirates Stadium before finally being knocked out on aggregate by Arsenal.
"Going to Galatasaray was a fantastic occasion," recalled Potter. "PAOK as well. Going through the Europa League groups was a fantastic experience."
But Potter insisted the focus of he and his staff will be on getting Chelsea's European campaign back on track, regardless of the personal milestone that taking charge of a side in the Champions League will represent.
"This is an amazing evening for us - we're super excited," said the head coach. "At the same time, we've been trying to prepare a team, focus on the game, get to know all the players and get to know everyone at the training ground."
Chelsea No 2 'keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is likely to start in goal in Potter's first game in charge after the head coach revealed Edouard Mendy will miss out with a knee problem.
Potter said of Mendy's injury: "It's responding well but I think it's been bothering him for a bit, so he's just had to take some time to clear it up.
"I don't think it will be too long."
Potter will also be without N'Golo Kante, who remains sidelined with the hamstring injury suffered against Tottenham last month.