After three wins in a row, the mounting pressure on Chelsea manager Graham Potter finally seemed to ease a little towards the end of the week.

And that is totally ridiculous. Not that the pressure eased off, but the fact that it was there in the first place.

I will be the first to acknowledge that, despite a solid start to his Stamford Bridge career, the last few months have not gone according to plan. Not enough wins, not enough points and not enough goals have been the consistent theme until last week.

But the very idea that the former Brighton manager’s job should be under intense scrutiny and imminent threat so soon after his appointment last September is just sheer lunacy.

If nothing else, the very fact that he had the best part of an entire new team thrust upon him in January should have been enough reason to cut him some slack. And that is on top of the fact that Chelsea had already bought the best part of another new team in the summer. And all of those players are still finding their Premier League feet. Chuck in an extensive injury list and the fact that having such a huge squad is a manager’s nightmare and it’s not hard to see why Chelsea have been underperforming.

But what really makes me sick to the teeth about the Potter situation is that he and his young family have been receiving nasty and evil abuse from so-called fans.

What sort of human being can possibly believe that is acceptable behaviour? The sort you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire, I suspect. Vent your frustration if you must, that’s well within your rights. But dishing out death threats to a man and his family just because your football team is not doing brilliantly? Sickening. I understand that Chelsea supporters have got used to new managers coming in and achieving instant results. That is, surprisingly, how things have gone at the club in the last decade or two.

But Potter was never going to be that type of chap. It was always going to be about building something lasting under his leadership.

You only have to look at what Mikel Arteta is achieving at Arsenal to realise that giving young, talented managers the time and space to build something is the right way forward.

Giving young, talented managers the time and space to build something is the right way forward

To be honest, I am now actually slightly torn between wanting Potter to succeed and wanting him to walk away. I genuinely believe he will create a successful legacy at Stamford Bridge over the next few years.

But I am not entirely sure that tiny minority of Chelsea supporters who were sending e-mails to Potter wishing him dead are even remotely deserving of a bright future for their team.


Oh captain, my captain

Sincere apologies to Carlos Casemiro for the unintentional jinxing.

No sooner have I written a column suggesting he is the perfect player to take over the Manchester United captaincy than he goes and gets himself sent off that same day.

Personally I am not convinced it was a challenge that warranted a red card but VAR seems to have it in for the Brazilian, who has now been sent off twice this season, both after the intervention of the hidden referees.

To be fair to the lad, he is not exactly known for his dirty play – in fact he was only ever sent off twice during his 336-game spell at Real Madrid. And neither of those dismissals were straight reds.

Still, despite Casemiro’s early bath against Southampton, I am standing by my assertation that he would make a better Old Trafford captain than Bruno ‘The Incredible Sulk’ Fernandes.


Humility reigns at FIFA

Reelected FIFA president Gianni Infantino may not have his predecessor’s passion for lining his own pockets but he does display the same personal delusions of self-importance.

We all know that Sepp Blatter thought the entire world revolved around him. Just as he thought the entire world owed him a regular supply of brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash.

Luckily, Infantino only appears to have inherited the ego trait.

“To those that love me, and I know there are many, and those who hate me... I love you all,” he said last Thursday after securing another four-year term without anyone standing against him.

I am getting the distinct impression that the word ‘modesty’ doesn’t appear anywhere on the FIFA president job description.


Player management gone mad

The big issue I have when it comes to Erling Haaland – and I am sure many other writers are suffering from the same problem – is thinking of appropriate superlatives to describe him and his performances.

Words like ‘magnificent’, ‘awesome’ and ‘incredible’ are starting to sound entirely understated, especially in the wake of his one-man, five-goal demolition of RB Leipzig last Tuesday night.

Despite being just 22, he has already broken a ridiculous amount of goal-scoring records and looks set to break a good few more over the rest of this season. He really is a footballing phenomenon.

Talking of records, however, I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that Pep Guardiola took his star man off after 63 minutes during that 7-0 victory.

Nobody has ever scored a double hat-trick in the Champions League and, considering Leipzig were defending like a Sunday League side, only an absolute moron would have bet against Haaland sticking at least one more in the back of the net.

With his confidence brimming after a five-goal blitz, why not leave him on and let him push for the sixth?

Pep has jokingly said he didn’t want Haaland to achieve such a feat at such an young age to have something to aim for, but the reality is he was doing that ‘player management’ stuff with an eye on future gameload.

However, given that the lad was on the cusp of making history and possibly setting a record that would never be broken, he should have left him on for the last half hour for the heck of it.

Haaland himself wasn’t pleased to be subbed and I don’t blame him. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you never know what is around the corner in terms of form, fitness and injuries. What if the opportunity never comes again?

Controlling a player’s workload is a crucial part of being a good manager. Possibly one of the most important parts in an era when matches come thick and fast.

But I’m sure it wouldn’t have killed Pep – or the player – to let his heart rule his head on this one-off occasion.



Twitter: @Maltablade

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