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Premier League: Can Chelsea find a way out of their plight?

Graham Potter, it's fair to say, didn't exactly arrive at Stamford Bridge amid a fanfare but few fans and observers would have anticipated the start to his Chelsea reign proving quite this troubled.

Brighton had one of the brightest young coaches in Europe, as they continued to over-achieve under his astute and forward-thinking leadership, leading to Chelsea's new owners swooping in the Autumn.

Four months later and Chelsea are 10/1 to finish in the top four, and it's anyone's guess what owner Todd Boehly truly thinks of what he presumably imagined was a masterstroke back in September.

Publicly at least, Potter has the American's backing. But privately? Chelsea's fans are making their feelings clear about the manager's performance so far and the future, both for Potter and the club, could not look more uncertain.

It's a results business

Potter is not daft. Being Boehly's preferred choice doesn't count for much if results aren't good enough and no one would deny results at Chelsea simply aren't anywhere near good enough.

Those who questioned why Boehly axed Champions League-winning coach Thomas Tuchel in September after a run of three losses in the opening seven games of the campaign, are even more vocal now.

After all, what Potter wouldn't give for a record that reads three defeats in seven.

Yet his start, statistically at least, couldn't have gone any rosier – he was unbeaten through his opening nine matches and Champions League qualification was being secured with a minimum of fuss.

But the wheels came off at, of all places, Brighton, where Chelsea's new boss was always going to get a torrid time from fans but got far worse than that. His new team were battered 4-1 and since then they have played nine matches, losing six, including each of the last three.

Right move at the wrong time?

The more you look at Potter's time at Chelsea, it looks like he took the right job at the wrong time.

Potter, an astute thinker and undeniably successful, was destined for a big job at some point. But Chelsea? In September? The challenge was evident and he had a number of issues to deal with immediately.

Tuchel had done so little wrong that you're immediately left worrying about the new personalities in the board-room, worried that wielding axes might become something of a fixation.

The transfer window had only just shut too and Tuchel had yet to mould the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling, Marc Cucurella, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and the other big-money summer arrivals into the team he wanted.

Potter, light on his toes when it comes to team and system tinkering, would have immediately come into the dressing room with his own ideas – and a dressing room which others have said has proved unmanageable. Frank Lampard couldn't do it and Tuchel as time went on found it tough.

The injury to N'Golo Kante and subsequent injury to Reece James would have irritated Potter though not so much as the failure to coax any level of consistency out of a bunch of hugely talented players. Many have rightly blamed those same players but, inevitably, the buck stops with the manager.

Will Boehly roll the dice again?

Now, of course, Potter and Boehly have panicked and started to splash more cash, most recently Joao Felix who ought to be a real talent (once he returns from his ban) but does look a lot like several other flair players who have come to dominate but disappoint in Chelsea's front line.

But what if this wild spending spree doesn't come off quickly?

They are 10th in the table – they were fifth after Potter's first league game in charge – and are 10/1 to finish in the top four and 13/8 to finish in the top six. Before a ball had been kicked in anger in August they had been 8/11 and 2/9 respectively.

Next up it's Palace at home, then Liverpool away. More dropped points in either would only heighten the pressure and give Boehly an enormous decision to make ahead of the club's Champions League double-header against Borussia Dortmund next month.

Right now, Chelsea are 4/7 to qualify against Dortmund and make progress in the only competition left for them to win this season. But on current form they are a real struggle to fancy.

We don't know enough about Boehly to quite understand what level of stagnation he will tolerate before he needs to see improvements.

He demanded a focus on the academy so he will be thrilled to see the likes of Lewis Hall and Bashir Humphreys make strides in the first-team squad, though it's yet another ball to juggle for Potter who would rather get some consistent match-winning tunes out of Mason Mount or Kai Havertz than turn to unproven players.

It looks a mess and its by no means all of Potter's making. But he, of course, will be the one who pays for it should Boehly's patience end.

If Boehly is giving Potter this window, then presumably he'll also get the season. Where's the sense in firing him now? But since when does life in top-flight, modern-day football management make much sense.

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