Friday, September 9, 2022

Week In Suspension: Premier League Pauses; Tuchel Terminated; Potter Takes Reigns At Stamford Bridge

Premier League matches are suspended this weekend in a show of respect for the passing of England’s Queen Elizabeth II. An overly crowded schedule thus becomes more problematic in this unusual World Cup year. The formal state funeral for the Queen is scheduled for next weekend which could mean a further series of match suspensions. Rescheduled matches are unlikely to be played before mid-January following the World Cup and annual holiday match congestion.

The table for the moment is likely frozen until clubs return after international break this month. That could be good news for Chelsea as a new manager gets time on the training ground with his new charges. Thomas Tuchel was fired on Wednesday following Tuesday’s surprising 1-0 Champions League loss to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. Tuchel has had a career long history of tense relations with ownership and others in club management and his relationship with the new Chelsea owners had apparently deteriorated. Tuchel’s prickly personality combined with poor results on the field ended his stay Stamford Bridge. Points of difference between Tuchel and Chelsea management ranged from disagreement over specific transfer targets to a level of required involvement by Tuchel in transfer dealings that he apparently was uncomfortable with. The club’s on-field performance has been spotty at best amid rumored discontent on the part of several players. Tuchel’s attacking scheme had long been a source of concern and the once mighty defense had deteriorated amid key player turnover on the back line.

The latest attacking solution is now problematic as the club signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just as the transfer window was closing. The former Arsenal captain has had off-field issues with other managers such as Mikel Arteta but had a reasonable relationship with Tuchel when the two were together at Borussia Dortmund. Aubameyang now becomes someone’s else problem (or solution). Responsibility for turning things around at Stamford Bridge now becomes that of Graham Potter.

The Brighton and Hove Albion manager was quickly named on Thursday as the 30th manger in Chelsea history. Potter is widely admired for his tactical acumen, stressing a creative and attacking style, but has a resume which is relatively sparse after managerial stints with Swedish side Ostersund, Championship side Swansea and most recently in the Premier League with Brighton. Chelsea represents a large step up for the British manager to a role normally filled by more proven winners. Potter walks into a pressured situation for a club which spent a record amount on summer transfers but sits sixth in the Premier League and was embarrassed in Champions League group play this past week. Brighton fans will rue the loss of the young manager who had the Seagulls currently occupying a top four berth despite the sale of several key players. Potter will be taking virtually his entire coaching staff with him to London. A successor at Brighton was yet to be named as of Friday. 

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