Not all managers will welcome the Premier League season stopping for a month during the World Cup but for Chelsea’s Graham Potter the enforced break might be a blessing.
Potter went nine matches unbeaten in all competitions after leaving Brighton & Hove Albion to replace Thomas Tuchel in September but Chelsea’s season has stalled since with two defeats and two draws in their last four Premier League games.
Chelsea sign off with Saturday’s visit to third-placed Newcastle United, who are seeking a fifth successive league win, after which Potter said he will take stock.
“I wouldn’t say I’m really looking forward to (the break), but we have to use it for what it is,” he told reporters on Friday.
“It is an opportunity for us. We have a game to finish tomorrow and, whatever happens, then we have to take stock of the time we’ve had. It’s been 13 matches in six weeks, eight away from home, it’s been incredibly intense.
“We’ve learned a lot. So we have to take the time to reflect and come back in a stronger way.”
Chelsea have slipped to seventh in the standings with goalscoring a particular problem as neither Raheem Sterling or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have exactly hit the ground running since their moves to Stamford Bridge.
Injuries to full backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell, ruling them out of England’s World Cup squad, and France midfielder N’Golo Kante, who also misses the finals, have been headaches for Potter who describes the schedule since he took over as like being in the ‘washing machine’.
“I’m a human being as well. I’ve come from Brighton, where everything was pretty much organised over a three-year period,” Potter said. “I ended up here pretty quickly, and you are straight into it in terms of the games and the turnaround.
“You have to deal with all that is going on and the amount of matches you play. You do need time to reflect, and there is (time) because of the World Cup break. It would be stupid of me not to do that, to rejuvenate, to recover, to reflect, to improve.”
Chelsea’s slump has predictably turned the focus on Potter and he said he would talk to the club’s new owner Todd Boehly during the World Cup.
“I’m pretty sure we will (meet). We have regular dialogue, so that’s part of an ongoing process,” Potter said.
“Absolutely, we need to think about what’s happened and what we need to do to improve.”
Victory at Newcastle would certainly lift the mood but Potter is hugely impressed by what Magpies coach Eddie Howe has achieved so far on Tyneside, where talk of a top-four finish by euphoric fans is no longer dismissed out of hand.
“I think Eddie has done a fantastic job. He has improved the players that were there, improved the team with some really good recruitment — they’ve spent some money to reinforce the team,” Potter said. “I could speak for half an hour about how good I think Eddie is as a person and as a coach.”