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Chelsea behind in the Champions League as Graham Potter faces a new reality

This might be the wrong question to ask after the eyes looked down at Graham Potter and Chelsea drew 1-1 with FC Salzburg at the Stamford Bridge – but what must Thomas Tuchel have to think?

If Tuchel had the stomach to watch just a week after his release, between his name scandals sung in the 21st minute, he would have seen the energy and spark that was missing in the trauma of his last game at Dinamo Zagreb. Perhaps he would lean back, smiling in both frustration and longing at the memory of when the same players would play for him this way.

But then Tuchel could look up and be hit with a few more recent flashbacks, missed opportunities, a lack of focus from the rear and a concession to a cheap goal, a lack of control and a failure to score a game. Ultimately, for Tuchel, this version of Chelsea was more familiar to him, but that’s not his problem anymore.

Instead, it is Potter who is frustrated by the sense of victory that has vanished and who will have to consume the two dropped points that put Chelsea in a difficult place at the bottom of Group E in the Champions League. While Chelsea’s position is obviously not his own creation, one point out of six already puts Potter a bit behind a double-headed against AC Milan next month.

“This is not a position we want to be in, but we have to respond,” Potter said, responding to the reality he now has to face after moving from Brighton. As he struggles with his new owners to distract himself from the past, the Englishman will have time, but Chelsea will still expect him to qualify from that group – even after this start.

Potter has only played one game in his career at Chelsea, but he has already found himself in an interesting position through no fault of his own. As the games against Fulham and Liverpool were postponed, he had time on the training ground to work with his new players and the early results were promising in Chelsea’s best periods against Salzburg.

There is even more time as Chelsea’s next game will not appear at Crystal Palace on October 1, but some of that will be taken up by most of his squad going to the World Cup games. It will be another experience very different from an international break in Brighton or Swansea.

However, the positives of his first match, which he commanded, were quite clear. The Chelsea system only needed a minor modification, but freed a few players and made room for losing the ball. Salzburg tended to place a narrow diamond in the center of the field this season, so Raheem Sterling and Reece James were used extensively. Both were excellent and naturally took advantage of the gaps. The shape was fluid and you could see there was some good job that promised much more and indicated further variety.

Chelsea created an improved display but was held back by known issues

(Getty)

But while Potter was also pleased with the “attitude” and “application” of his site, that night ended in frustration. His admission that Chelsea had lost control of the game and lacked the edge to score the second was a reminder of why Chelsea and the team that saw the £ 260m injection of talent are where they are.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became Chelsea’s scorer but disappeared after a few early chances. Both he and Kai Havertz were the first to be dropped, and if there were any questions about Potter during his time at Brighton, it would be that the top strikers tended to fight in his teams. The key issue is the lack of confidence that has resulted from Tuchel’s final days and the deteriorating relationship at the club.

Potter has time to fix it. However, there are no matches. After Chelsea returned from an international break to face Crystal Palace, three weeks have passed since Potter’s debut when they return to the Stamford Bridge again to face AC Milan. It’s already a big game and even if there are more positives to be drawn from it, Potter will be putting pressure on him to fix Chelsea’s problems and get the result.

If it wasn’t, it didn’t take long for that reality to become apparent at Chelsea.

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