Graham Potter grateful for chance of a breather with international break in ‘crazy season’ for Chelsea

Graham Potter is looking forward to recharging during the international break (Mike Egerton/PA)

Robert O'Connor

Graham Potter reflected on “a crazy season” so far with Chelsea as he looked forward to taking time to recharge over the international break.

The pressure has eased on the manager in the last two weeks following an upturn in form, with players signed in January starting to settle and results improving as Potter has gained a greater sense of his favoured XI and shape.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Everton at Stamford Bridge saw the team play some of their most fluid attacking football since the manager replaced Thomas Tuchel in September, though they continue to be held back by a difficulty in converting chances.

Kai Havertz thought he had won it for Chelsea before Everton hit back late on (Nigel French/PA)

That allowed the visitors to peg them back, equalising first through Abdoulaye Doucoure after Joao Felix had given Chelsea a second-half lead.

Then, after Kai Havertz looked to have won it with a penalty, Ellis Simms got forward in the 89th minute and beat Kalidou Koulibaly to the ball to slot home and steal a point for Everton.

The manager pointed to the changes that have taken place at Chelsea during the last 12 months, beginning with the club being sold by Roman Abramovich to new owner Todd Boehly last May and wholesale turnover among the squad and behind the scenes.

“Sometimes you have to see exactly what’s happened,” said Potter. “Since the last two windows, you’re probably looking at a 20-plus player turnaround.

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“So in terms of stability, togetherness, spirit in the group, that’s been a real positive over this tough period of weeks and months. A unique season, before the World Cup was crazy with the intensity of the games and then the injuries we were picking up.

“The transfer window has added more noise to us. But, at the same time, we’ve got a young group who are coming together and performing together well. Today’s performance was a positive one, Dortmund (in the Champions League) was a positive one. But still lots to do.”

The draw ended a run of three straight wins that have changed the complexion of Potter’s tenure after a torrid start to 2023.

As well as wins against Leeds and Leicester in the league, they progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals by knocking out Borussia Dortmund. They will face holders Real Madrid in April.

The team next play on April 1 against Aston Villa following the international break, with Potter relishing the chance to take stock ahead of the season’s final weeks.

Graham Potter was denied a fourth straight win by Ellis Simms’ late goal for Everton (Nigel French/PA)

“I always say, these breaks, you can’t do anything about them,” said Potter. “You just take them for what they are. It’s been an intense few weeks, so we’ll take the break. We’ve had a decent week. Today was a performance that was a positive one for us, but ultimately we’re frustrated to drop points.

“It’s an intense period coming up, April and May will be heavy. It’s important for me as the leader to gain some freshness and to recharge and to use the time.

“I’m probably going to close my eyes for a few hours, or try to. I’ll spend some time with the family and then we’ll see.”