After a statement win over AC Milan in Europe and his first Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea manager, an “excited” Graham Potter is starting to make his mark on the Blues.
After drawing his first game in charge the former Brighton boss has claimed three consecutive wins and looks to be starting to understand what makes his side tick.
“It’s exciting. It’s been a really strong week. It’s not easy, going Wednesday and Saturday. Credit to the players,” Potter said after his side’s 3-0 victory on Saturday.
Potter’s men could and should have scored more, too. The half-time scoreline of 1-0 flattered Wolves after Mason Mount, who was sublime throughout, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic all went close in a commanding first-half performance.
Potter made seven changes between the two Premier League games, including bringing in Conor Gallagher, who was on loan at Crystal Palace last season and scored the winner against his former club last week.
The 47-year-old is clearly testing out the depth at his disposal – he left Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling on the bench for the Wolves win, and opted to bring on Armando Broja and 18-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka for his first Premier League appearance.
“Premier League players want to play every week,” added Potter. “You can only pick 11 and you have a squad of 20 so there’s always disappointment. How you react to that as a group is really important. All you can do is communicate as honestly as you can.
“The week we’ve just had has been fantastic. We’ve made some steps with the group with how we’re acting. The attitude of players has been really good. Their effort to what we’ve been trying to do is fantastic. They’re a good group to work with,” he said.
The transition from Brighton to a ‘top-six side’ is not an easy one, but it is one Potter appears to be relishing.
“There is more media, more interest in the club. The games are different. We’ve had two Champions League games and the first was surreal,” he said.
Potter’s inaugural game as manager came in the Champions League after six days in the post and he said “it was a bit of a whirlwind” having to prepare the players when he didn’t really know them.
But Potter has made a name for himself as one of the most highly rated English managers in football, guiding Brighton to their best ever points tally and highest finish in the table in the club’s history last season – ninth with 51 points.
“You spend three years somewhere thinking about that club and it changes really quickly. We play AC Milan on Tuesday, a fantastic game at San Siro and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“Winning games helps so we look forward to the games. It’s about hard work, it’s being together, that stuff is important but the guys have been really impressive. So far I’m really enjoying it.”
Broja has ‘big future’
Following a successful spell at Southampton, where he scored six goals in 32 Premier League appearances, Albania international Broja got himself off the mark at Chelsea with a fine finish against Wolves after he replaced Mason Mount in the second half.
The 21-year-old has been on the fringes of the senior Chelsea squad since 2020 and after two loan spells, at Vitesse and Southampton, is getting more consistent opportunities under Potter.
“It’s unreal – I’ve been waiting for my first goal. It’s a surreal moment. I can’t put it into words. It was a good performance,” Broja said.
“Everyone knows at one of the biggest clubs in the world there will be competition. It helps us all develop as players. We have a big squad, everyone is needed at all times.”
Potter was impressed and said: “He comes on and works hard for the team. He’s had to be patient but he’s been working hard in training and it’s nice for him to score.”
Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin said on BBC Radio 5 Live the fans “love” Broja because “he comes on and puts in so much effort”.
“That is an important one for him – he is selfless but is also a target man,” added Nevin.
“A lot of people have been talking about Aubameyang, but do not write off Broja. I think he has got a big future.”