NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Graham Potter’s reign at Chelsea already appears to be in crisis after a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday left the London club eighth in the Premier League.
Joe Willock’s 67th-minute strike consigned Chelsea to a third consecutive league defeat — and fourth in five games in all competitions.
It’s a run that will pile the pressure on the former Brighton boss, who has only been in the job for two months.
It will also test the faith that Chelsea’s American owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, have in the man they have chosen to lead the overhaul of the club. They have already shown their ruthless side when they sacked Thomas Tuchel in September, just over a year since the German led Chelsea to the Champions League title.
Potter will have to hope that his superiors will show more patience with him, but the alarm bells will be ringing.
A desperate run of results will only fuel concerns that the job was too big and came too soon for a man whose career has previously seen him manage Brighton, Swansea and Swedish side Ostersunds.
And it could get even worse for Chelsea, with Fulham having the chance to move up to eighth on Sunday with victory over Manchester United.
Either way, it promises to be an awkward World Cup break for Potter as the England season grinds to a halt until Christmas.
“It’s not nice for us,” Potter told Sky Sports. “We are in a bad moment. We take the break to recharge and go again.
“Sometimes you have to accept the struggles you have. It’s about rebuilding and beginning. It’s the second half of the season and there’s a long way to go.”
It’s a completely different story for Eddie Howe, whose Newcastle side continued their excellent start to the season.
This was a fifth consecutive league win to move within two points of second-placed Manchester City.
The Saudi-backed club will go into the World Cup third in the standings and look like genuine contenders for Champions League qualification, if not more.
“I take immense pride in how the players have consistently performed,” Howe said. “Now the challenge is to maintain it and improve it. We will focus on what we think we can improve as a team. Hopefully the boys can come back from the World Cup in good spirits.
“I’ll maybe enjoy a couple of days off, but then the challenge is to get back in and make sure we hit the ground running.”
AP World Cup Coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson