What Graham Potter did to impress Todd Boehly as Chelsea make Champions League statement


Graham Potter had some huge selection decisions to make for Chelsea’s crunch Champions League second-leg tie against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday evening. In what was deemed his biggest match as manager since arriving in west London last September, the former Brighton boss expertly guided his side to a 2-0 victory and progression to the next stage of the competition.

A first-half Raheem Sterling opener was added to by Kai Havertz’s penalty - albeit at the second attempt - to overturn the first-leg deficit. Potter took the plaudits of the Stamford Bridge faithful after the final whistle, showing a passionate side to him rarely seen in the Chelsea dugout so far.

It wasn’t just the manager who revelled in the win, as TV cameras caught co-owner Todd Boehly celebrating the opening goal inside Stamford Bridge. The US billionaire was seen high-fiving his companions whilst slightly shaking his head, almost as though to say: “Finally!”

After the match, Boehly was seen in the tunnel embracing his under-fire manager, who eased the pressure on him with back-to-back wins, the first of which coming against Leeds United last weekend. In the lead-up to what was previously described as a “make or break” week, the Telegraph claimed Potter held numerous one-to-one discussions with senior players to calm the waters.

It was also reported that Boehly and Behdad Eghbali were particularly impressed with Potter’s decision to bench Mykhailo Mudryk and Hakim Ziyech for both recent victories. The pair appear to have fallen out of favour with the Chelsea head coach, with the side reaping the rewards courtesy of three Premier League points and Champions League progression.

Despite a January move to PSG collapsing at the eleventh hour, Ziyech continued to be a regular feature in the Blues line-up. Prior to the Leeds win, he appeared in all but one of the side’s matches in 2023, including 90 minutes in the first- leg against Dortmund.

However, Potter was less than impressed with the Moroccan’s antics in the previous defeat to Tottenham, when he was lucky to escape being sent off following a VAR intervention. Despite the referee initially brandishing the red card for slapping Emerson Royal, Ziyech was given a reprieve, although he was substituted not long after and hasn’t received any minutes since. Meanwhile, Mudryk has joined Ziyech as an unused substitute in each of the last two matches after a less-than- impressive start to his Chelsea career.

After signing for £88.5million in January, the 22-year-old failed to contribute a goal or assist during his first six appearances. Potter has therefore chosen to adopt a more patient approach with the Ukraine international, as he continues to adapt to the English game. Chelsea return to Premier League action on Saturday afternoon when they visit relegation- threatened Leicester City.

The manager now has a difficult decision to make whether to stick with the tried and tested line-up and system from the last two outings, or whether Mudryk and Ziyech could be handed a lifeline and an opportunity to impress.

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