Graham Potter and Chelsea face Champions League crunch clash against Borussia Dortmund

[07-03-2023 12:55 PM]

Ammon News - Until last September, when Graham Potter found himself abruptly thrust into the position of Chelsea manager, he had never so much as attended a match in the Champions League.

It was a curious gap in the career of a coach who has always been intrepid, an Englishman who built up his reputation in provincial Sweden by taking Ostersund from the lower divisions into the Europa League, and who established Brighton as a force in the Premier League.

Taking up a VIP spectator seat at European Cup games is no measure of a coach’s potential. Potter has mostly been too busy to travel on midweek evenings to events he could more easily watch on television.

Yet six months into a Chelsea career that began with a group stage fixture between the 2021 European champions and Salzburg, he cannot help wondering if there may be a wait rather longer than half a year after Tuesday’s meeting with Borussia Dortmund, before he again experiences, live, the atmosphere of a Champions League night.

His team are trailing 1-0 from the Dortmund leg of their last-16 tie; Chelsea are only in the top half of the Premier League thanks to goal difference, and 11 points beneath fourth place, the last of the qualifying spots for next season’s Champions League. On potency — goals scored — Chelsea would sit 14th in the domestic table. On form they look alarmingly mismatched with the latest visitors to Stamford Bridge.

Dortmund are chasing an 11th successive victory, and looking to maintain a 100 per cent record since they returned to action after the break for the World Cup, a run that has thoroughly endorsed the club’s decision to appoint Edin Terzic as manager last summer. The 40-year-old had previously held a number of Dortmund roles, including interim coach in 2020/21. He had been a fellow student of Potter’s as they earned their professional badges.

They stay in touch, have a bond and some empathy: Terzic knows what it is to encounter scepticism and how, being promoted sharply upwards invites criticism that, as a young manager, you may not be ready for the bigger stage.

Terzic heard some of that in his first spell in charge of Dortmund’s first-team. Potter, who has overseen just two victories in 12 games since the new year, has lately listened to loud booing and derision of his pedigree, although he is eager to channel any goodwill from the grandstands generated by Saturday’s 1-0 home win against Leeds United.

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