Soccer-Tough decisions ahead as Potter handed expensive Chelsea jigsaw puzzle
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Graham Potter admits there will be some tricky conversations as he tries to piece together an expensive puzzle and turn the club’s massive spending spree into success.
On Friday, Potter’s Chelsea host Fulham with nearly £300m ($369m) in January signings at their disposal.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager said he was not involved in the ‘detail’ of the eight arrivals, culminating in the arrival of Enzo Fernandez for a British record £106million from Benfica on day of the deadline.
Potter certainly isn’t complaining about the influx of talent, but knows that finding the right mix between them and the existing team will be a challenge.
“If you spend money, the noise outside increases. Resources are one thing, but you have to align them, make the right decisions, create an environment,” he told a press conference.
“It’s exciting and it’s a test for me and the staff. We have a lot of good players, we need healthy competition but sometimes there will be frustration, that’s how it is.
“There will be some awkward questions and conversations as only 11 can play and you can only have so many in your squad on match day. It’s about being honest, open and transparent and respecting the fact that people want to play.
Potter did not rule out the 22-year-old World Cup winner Fernandez making his debut against Fulham.
“We have to go through the paperwork and get clearance and all that. My Spanish isn’t very good and his English isn’t very good, but we’ll get there. He’s an impressive young man and we look forward to working with him,” he said.
Potter might not have expected to have Hakim Ziyech at his disposal yet, but a deadline switch to Paris St Germain didn’t go through.
“He trained this morning,” Potter said of the Moroccan winger. “He is a professional committed to us and available to Fulham.”
With Chelsea having spent more than £500million since being taken over last May by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, their current position of 10th in the league is not what fans expect. would be expected.
Potter, who replaced Thomas Tuchel in September, will hope a win over seventh-placed Fulham can provide the springboard for a strong second half of the season.
“They had a fantastic season. Thanks to all the staff there, Marco (Silva) of course the players performed well and they are where they are on merit,” he said of Fulham who beat Chelsea 2-1 at Craven Cottage in January.
Chelsea announced earlier on Thursday that Laurence Stewart had joined the club as joint sporting director to work alongside Paul Winstanley who took over in November.
“They oversee the entire sports team, including talent, scouting, recruitment and data,” the club said.
“They will work closely with Graham Potter and his coaching staff to support the men’s first team.”
Stewart was previously technical director of AS Monaco.
($1 = 0.8120 pounds)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)