The managerial merry-go-round continues to turn, as Sunday brought us the latest sackings in a Premier League season that’s been full of surprises. New manager odds are already circulating after Brendan Rodgers’ departure earlier on in the day was followed by the announcement of the end of Graham Potter’s tenure as Chelsea boss. This is the first time since 2015 that two Premier League managers have been sacked on the same day, and unfortunately for Rodgers, he was involved on both occasions.
Both Leicester and Chelsea have seriously struggled for any semblance of consistency this season, and it begs the question, were the sackings of both Rodgers, and Potter, deserved? When you look at the quality littered amongst the squads, it’s difficult to defend either side’s position in the bottom half of the table. Leicester are languishing down in 19th, whilst the new Chelsea ownership will have been left red-faced after their appointment of Potter backfired.
However, neither manager had the easiest of conditions in which to work.
Rodgers left with scraps?
Despite the sale of Wesley Fofana in the summer, Leicester were strapped for cash, leaving Rodgers with very little to work with in the summer transfer market. Ultimately, Rodgers was forced to work with the same squad that finished last season, with Wout Faes coming in as Fofana’s replacement.
You could argue that this Leicester squad still has far too much quality to find themselves fighting for their lives, but injuries to key players such as Maddison, Ndidi, Evans, and Tielemans (all of varying lengths), has left them in a bit of a hole. Add an ageing Jamie Vardy into the mix, a talismanic forward who netted for the Foxes on a regular basis, now no longer at the peak of his powers, and suddenly the quality of Rodgers’ squad is severely diminished.
Still, there are players at Leicester capable of making a difference, and 19th place is evidence enough to suggest that Rodgers was unable to get a tune out of the players. But, troubles aside, Rodgers wasn’t given much to work with until Leicester splashed a bit of cash in January.
Potter out of his depth?
Graham Potter’s situation at Chelsea was perhaps the exact opposite, and when you look at the sheer amount of money spent during his time at the club, many would argue that it’s difficult to sympathise with him. Enzo Fernandez, Benoit Badiashile, Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Noni Madueke, all players that joined the club on a permanent basis in January for significant fees. Not to mention, the likes of Malo Gusto, Datro Fofana, and Andrey Santos were also brought in as ones for the future.
Chelsea have certainly flexed their financial muscles since the start of the season, in what was clearly a bid to give Potter all the tools he would need to build a young and hungry side capable of challenging both now, and in the future. However, that’s clearly not been the case, and the influx of signings arguably made things far more difficult for Potter than they should have been. Dealing with a squad of 30 plus senior players is difficult at the best of times, but Potter fell into the trap of trying to please players that arguably have no future at the club.
The new ownership had given their manager the freedom to build something, to start a project from the ground up and use the young talent. Chukwuemeka, Datro Fofana, Hall, Madueke, Mudryk, Badiashile, all were there to be used, and the owners were happy for that to be the case. But Potter failed to show any signs of progress, any clear plan, instead choosing to appease the likes of Ziyech, Aubamayeng, Koulibaly, and when the going got tough, he focused too much on immediate results as opposed to the future that the ownerships were planning for.
But again, how can you conduct a proper training session with a squad of over 30 players? Sure, weeding out the senior players that have no future and sending them to train elsewhere is a possibility, but one that likely would have cost Potter his job anyway at a club that has been known for an issue with regards to player power for quite some time. Add to that the consistent injury problems. Wesley Fofana has been in and out, James nor Chilwell have been regularly available, Armando Broja suffered a long term injury during the World Cup break, and N’golo Kante made just a singular appearance under Potter.
Regardless of all of the issues, 33 goals and 31 conceded in all competitions in 31 games is an incredibly poor return for a team that can boast the quality that Chelsea can. Still, this was arguably a lose-lose situation for Potter. Boehly and co claimed that they didn’t want to be like the old ownership, sacking a manager at the first sign of an issue. But having given Potter the reins, and seeing no sign of a project, nor any progress, a decision had to be made.
What’s Next for Leicester and Chelsea?
Both Leicester and Chelsea now find themselves in fascinating positions. Leicester will be on the look for a new manager to steer them to Premier League safety, whilst Chelsea will be searching for a candidate capable of building something truly special in the long run, whilst also able to navigate them through the later stages of the Champions League this season.
So, who are the candidates, and how do they stack up?
Next Leicester Manager odds
Many have already suggested that the timing of these two sackings is perfect for Leicester. On paper, Potter seems like the perfect replacement for Rodgers in order to help attain the Foxes’ Premier League status for the 2023/24 season. Yes, Potter struggled to get to grips with the task at hand with Chelsea, but his success at Brighton can’t be ignored in this situation.
Perhaps he’s a manager that suits a smaller club, an underdog if you will? Whilst there was no sign of progress at Chelsea, his style of play and philosophy was evident at Brighton, making them one of the most pleasing teams to watch in the league. Premier League experience, as well as availability, makes him one of the best candidates available right now. However, it’s been suggested that Leicester have in fact already approached Potter, with the former Chelsea manager turning them down, preferring to take a break.
There are strong rumours that Spaniard Rafa Benitez is destined for a return to Premier League management with Leicester, and he’s certainly a candidate worth considering, even if only in a role to the end of the season. His spell with Everton may have damaged his reputation, but this is a man that won the Champions League with Liverpool, and the Europa League with Chelsea. His philosophy, to make his side defensively solid first. That’s something that Leicester desperately need right now.
Elsewhere, it’s difficult to picture any of the other managers on the above list taking over at the King Power. Jon Dahl Tomasson and Thomas Frank seem content in their respective roles at Blackburn and Brentford for the time being, whilst Mauricio Pochettino seems an unlikely candidate given his name remains one of note in the managerial hunt of larger clubs.
The remaining names on that list wouldn’t exactly instill confidence amongst the fans. Steven Gerrard was sacked at the beginning of this season by Aston Villa after a rough start, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds tenure was cut short last season with the team shipping far too many goals, whilst Ralph Hasenhuttl has left Southampton in poor shape, with the Saints seemingly unable to both score and defend.
This could well be a long, and drawn out process for Leicester, and it’s something that they shouldn’t rush given what’s at stake.
Next Chelsea Manager odds
With all the noise surrounding the club at this present moment, you could be forgiven for thinking that Julian Nagelsmann had already been given the Chelsea job. However, the Chelsea ownership have insisted that they don’t want to rush into anything, and are determined to pick out the right man to oversee their long term project.
Potter failed to instill any sort of philosophy at the club, and failed to make use of the young players recruited by the likes of Vivell, Stewart, and Winstanley, three members of staff brought in as part of the recruitment overhaul. With this in mind, the new ownership will surely be desperate to bring in somebody capable of handling senior names, whilst blooding in the young stars.
Immediately, Bruno Saltor’s odds of 4/1 are a shock. The Spaniard was tough as nails as a player, but has little to no experience in a managerial setting. He’ll likely command respect from his squad, but whether he’s capable of undertaking a project, and building a young side, remains to be seen. Still, if Chelsea’s results suddenly turn around, and Bruno Saltor is able to get a tune from his squad and show evidence of a project, then there’s no reason as to why the ownership wouldn’t consider him, especially given their desire to take time over this appointment.
That aside, the race largely seems to be between Nagelsmann, and Enrique. The former has connections with Chelsea technical directors Vivell and Stewart due to his time at Leipzig, and is arguably the project manager that Chelsea have been after. The German has a history of getting the most out of what he has, and made brilliant use of an incredibly young squad at Leipzig, one that is now a consistent Champions League outfit.
His qualities as a manager were evident as he took Hoffenheim from the depths of the Bundesliga relegation zone to a third place finish, ultimately resulting in their first ever Champions League campaign. Following on from that, Nagelsmann took his young Leipzig squad to their first ever Champions League semi-final, just 3 years after their promotion to the top flight.
As for Enrique, such an appointment would seem less of a long term fit, and more of an immediate fix. Yes, he’s a man that would command respect, but it’s difficult to look at the dull and laboured style of play exhibited by his Spain squad, both in the Euros and in the World Cup, and think he’s the man for the job.
Whether he’d get anything out of the younger players remains to be seen, and Enrique’s track record outside of Barcelona isn’t exactly great. Yes, that side was phenomenal, but it was a team built for him and left for him by Guardiola, a team a the peak of their powers. Compare that to his Spain side that struggled to break multiple opponents down, and you can start to see the issues.
Of course, he may be able to get a tune from this Chelsea squad, but whether Chelsea’s owners would have the patience to work with a manager who’s very much stuck in his ways is another question. This process will take time, and picking out a new manager for the club will be no easy decision.