Graham Potter admits Chelsea’s poor form is ‘hurting’ him and affecting his family

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If Chelsea’s beleaguered players can muster the same sort of honesty in their performances as manager Graham Potter showed on Wednesday then they will be just fine.

The Blues boss can often appear reserved and restrained, but not on Wednesday as he delivered a refreshingly forthright assessment of the position he finds himself in – and how Chelsea’s run of just one victory in 10 domestic outings has impacted his family life.

The club’s woeful stretch has left many questioning whether Potter is the right man for the job – a role the 47-year-old described as the ‘hardest in football’.

Social media is awash with criticism from Chelsea fans. And worryingly, even the match-going supporters appear to be turning. The name of Potter’s predecessor Thomas Tuchel was chanted during the 4-0 FA Cup defeat at Manchester City.

Much of that is unavoidable. But as Potter pointed out on Wednesday we’ve entered a different chapter of the club’s history.

‘Change is a challenge in any organisation,’ explained Potter before Thursday night’s trip to Fulham. ‘We have to deal with the new and we have to build things up again because things have changed, things have gone and left.

‘That’s part of the challenge to come and I understood that things would be difficult from a leadership perspective. It is a challenge, stimulating and ridiculously hard.

‘It is probably the hardest job in football because of that leadership change and the expectation – because, rightly, where people see Chelsea.

‘I have the utmost respect for Thomas Tuchel and what he achieved here in terms of winning the Champions League, so I can understand that (the chanting).

‘What the previous ownership has done before is fantastic. But this is a new era, a new chapter and, we’re going through some pain and it’s difficult at the moment. Obviously, I understand their frustration, I appreciate their support because there is support there but I also understand there is a bit of pain we have to go through as well.’

It’s clear the criticism has taken its toll on Potter, no matter how he hard he tries to hide it. Of course, the losses arrive as the heftiest blows. There have been a few recently – too many for a club of Chelsea’s stature.

Potter is suffering. ‘After a game I am not a very pleasant person, in terms of it hurting me,’ he said.

‘When you lose, or don’t get the results, it is painful. It affects your family. As much as you try to have balance and perspective, I am a human as well and it is a struggle.

‘My family know there are pluses and minuses to the job. And ultimately, I am not after pity here. I am grateful and privileged to be here. I mean, wow, what else could you be doing with your life? Worse.

‘It is pain, but then life can be more painful. Life can really kick you and you have to recover from it, deal with it. At the same time, you have to take responsibility. What am I going to do? Be the Chelsea manager and not expect pressure, trouble, challenge, stress? It would be strange of me to do that.

‘You have to take responsibility. You have to lead the group and lead the team.’

There was a time when some of the vitriol being fired in his direction would have weighed heavier on Potter.

‘I used to speak about this with my wife because she would say, ‘It doesn’t do you any good looking at that (social media)’,’ he revealed. ‘It doesn’t do you any good reading comments because you don’t know where it’s come from and there’s a lot of angry people in the world.’

‘My ex-chairman said, “There’s no point arguing with stupid people because they’re stupid”. I’m not saying anybody criticising me is stupid at all but you get my point. It’s hard to take anything from it.

‘But it’s hard. Human beings want to be liked. In the end, it (looking at social media) doesn’t do you any good and it’s not great for your mental health, and you just have to understand that it’s out there. You don’t listen to the majority of it because you’d be crazy if you did.’

Meanwhile, the FA have told clubs they could be charged if their fans sing the ‘Chelsea rent boy’ chant. The Crown Prosecution Service is looking into the reported use of the term by Nottingham Forest fans during their New Year’s Day match against Chelsea at the City Ground.

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