Graham Potter has been backed by his former Swansea City player, Wayne Routledge, to be a major success at Chelsea if he is given time.
Former Brighton boss Potter was appointed Chelsea’s new manager earlier this month following the shock departure of Thomas Tuchel from Stamford Bridge.
Potter began his tenure at Chelsea with a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg in the Champions League earlier this month, and he will be keen to get the Blues back on track soon and to win over any doubters after a slow start to the season.
Routledge, who worked under Potter for his one season in charge at Swansea, is a huge admirer of the 47-year-old. He believes the calm and concise way he deals with players will make it easier for the Chelsea squad to adapt to his playing style, but that he is also not afraid to make changes where they are needed.
“He [Potter] has got a very calming aura about him,” Routledge tells Compare.bet. “He is very understanding, and he is straight to the point.
“I have been in football a long time and a lot of people don’t seem to get straight to the point and beat around the bush or try to hide things. But Graham is pretty straight with how he wants to do things and how he sees the game, how he sees certain structures or plans of play, and he is not afraid to change things or make decisions off the back if he does not feel it is going the way he expected.”
Meeting you for the first time! 👏 pic.twitter.com/BZG0fxkahs
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 15, 2022
In what is undoubtedly his biggest job to date after working his way up the leagues in management, question marks have been raised over whether Potter can handle working with some of the world’s best and most highly paid footballers at Chelsea. Routledge insists he will have no problem dealing with the big egos and characters inside Chelsea’s star-studded dressing room.
“I don’t feel he will have much of a problem [dealing with the big stars in the dressing room],” adds Routledge.
“It has been well-documented he has got these degrees in psychology and stuff like that. Honestly, the way he is I don’t see it being a problem.
“I think he will be totally fine there and once he gets his feet under the table I would back him to do well there.”
Routledge insists Potter will need time and patience, with new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly showing he’s seeking success after spending heavily in the summer transfer market and then acting so ruthlessly as to sack Tuchel early into the new campaign.
“Chelsea is a massive club with massive expectations, and obviously with the change of ownership there are certain things people are expecting,” says Routledge.
“He [Potter] has just arrived there and I think you must give him time.
“It’s something that’s obviously not a given at Chelsea, but if he gets the time and he gets his structure right in what they want to do I would expect them to be successful in the future.”
Speaking from his own experience of working under Potter, Routledge is full of praise for his man management skills and how he deals with players on a personal level, and he feels that his approach will help him get the best out of the Chelsea players.
“In his time at Swansea he was very calming and approachable. Between him, Billy [Reid] (assistant manager) and Bjorn [Hamberg] (assistant coach) they got their point across in quite a simple fashion which made it easier for people to adjust to what they wanted and achieve what they saw the game as,” continues Routledge.
“It was a surprise how quickly he settled down and how at ease he made so many of the boys feel, because when you’re at ease and confident you can obviously play your best football and I think that happened a lot with the younger boys he signed at Swansea.”
Potter arrived at Swansea in what was a difficult time, just after Premier League relegation and working under restricted finances, but he still went on to achieve a top-10 finish despite seeing 16 players depart and only five arrive.
“When I was under Graham it was a difficult time for me and Nathan Dyer as Swansea was going through a transition,” admitted Routledge.
“The Premier League money was finishing, and it was about getting high earners out of the club.
“He [Potter] was very straightforward and told me how it was and, all credit to him and the staff, they never pushed us into a corner or banished us to train with the Under-23s or away from the squad.
Raheem’s goal through Graham Potter’s eyes! 👀 pic.twitter.com/KjiZoOi7lb
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 17, 2022
“We always trained with the squad and we were always treated well. So that’s always a big thing, you treat people how they want to be treated. I think he and the staff there do make changes and see things how they see them at certain times, but everything is done for the good of the group.
“It was a difficult time where I didn’t play initially but, when there was an opportunity for me to do what I had to do with my contract and remove a clause, I played and I think we did quite well at the time. So I think that is credit to them to see a situation and not revert to a typical response of ‘you are not needed, go away’. He dealt with it in a good way.”
Routledge, who retired from playing last October after 10 years at Swansea, believes the way Potter treats his players on a personal level and how he builds connections with them will only benefit the squad at Stamford Bridge going forward.
“The man management and psychological aspects are second to none with Graham,” Routledge says.
“Players are human beings, we are not robots. I think a lot of time that’s lost in translation, you just expect certain people to do certain things robotically, but you don’t look into the psyche behind it.
“You don’t know if someone is having a loss of confidence, someone could be having a bad time at home, something could be going on with a family member, but all we see as fans and supporters is our players or superstars playing.
“There is a hell of a lot that goes on at a training ground and off the training ground to get players to perform on a Saturday and he [Potter] is very understanding and knowledgeable about that. I feel that’s where he benefits and that’s where the squad will benefit.”
Time is a precious commodity in football management and only time will tell if Potter can weave his magic on Chelsea like he did at his previous clubs.