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Chelsea owners will not judge Graham Potter on Champions League qualification

Chelsea’s new owners are determined to back Graham Potter for the long-haul (John Walton/PA)
Chelsea’s new owners are determined to back Graham Potter for the long-haul (John Walton/PA)

Chelsea’s new owners will not judge Graham Potter’s first campaign at Stamford Bridge on Champions League qualification, the PA news agency understands.

Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali would be thought to consider a top-four Premier League finish and a strong Champions League run as a successful first term for new boss Potter.

But the co-controlling Blues owners will not hold former Brighton boss Potter to those targets, it is understood, as part of their long-term planning.

So Boehly and Eghbali would be understood to be prepared to resist any managerial change should the Blues fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Blues’ new chiefs have swept into Stamford Bridge this summer with an ambitious 10-year plan and a 100-day review of their embryonic ownership earlier this week led to manager Thomas Tuchel’s sacking.

Taskmaster German coach Tuchel was sacked on Wednesday morning, with Brighton boss Potter quickly convinced to move to west London.

Solihull-born Potter signed a five-year Chelsea contract on Thursday afternoon, before leading his first Blues training session on Friday morning.

Saturday’s Premier League trip to Fulham was postponed after The Queen’s death but the Blues are preparing as normal for Wednesday’s Champions League clash against RB Salzburg at Stamford Bridge.

Potter spent Thursday afternoon at Chelsea’s Cobham training base, meeting club staff.

Graham Potter applauds
Solihull-born Potter signed a five-year Chelsea contract on Thursday afternoon (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Boehly and Eghbali addressed Chelsea staff, along with Potter on Thursday, as the Blues’ new era took another big step forward.

Potter met his Chelsea squad for the first time on Friday morning, before getting down to work on the training field.

Chelsea chairman Boehly regards Potter in similar mould to Andrew Friedman, the baseball boss his LA Dodgers headhunted to lead the California franchise.

Boehly and his fellow Dodgers owners saw Friedman as effectively learning all the tricks of an entrepreneurial trade in his overachieving stint at Tampa Bay Rays.

Boehly and Eghbali believe Potter developed that same kind of innovative spirit in maximising resources at Brighton and believe the extra weapons in Chelsea’s arsenal could see him make a significant impact at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s new owners have already sunk their teeth into their long-term project to transform every aspect at the west London club.

Boehly and Eghbali now hope to build their new Chelsea set-up around new boss Potter.

Chelsea slipped to a chastening Champions League loss at Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night, but the decision to remove Tuchel had already been taken.

The Chelsea board felt Tuchel’s tenure had lost its way after the stunning start that had seen the German coach drive the Blues to the Champions League title in just 124 days at the Stamford Bridge helm.