London: Chelsea coach Graham Potter acknowledged the frustration of fans who booed the Blues off after a 1-0 home defeat by the Premier League’s bottom club Southampton on Saturday but said his critics were wrong to put all the blame on him.
“After a 1-0 defeat at home, any criticism you get is understandable,” Potter told reporters after his side’s latest failure to find the net.
“I think we have had a tough period and I think we have had lots of challenges in terms of integrating younger players into the Premier League.”
The former Brighton & Hove Albion coach, who replaced Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel when the German was fired by Chelsea’s new owners last September, said it was tough when results went badly.
“That’s how it is and I am sure there will be people out there who think that I’m the problem,” Potter said. “I don’t think that they are right but I am not arrogant enough to say that their opinion isn’t worth articulating.” He said he assumed responsibility for Chelsea’s poor first half when his team - with six changes from the side that lost but played well at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek - went behind to a free-kick by Southampton’s dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse shortly before the break.
“The truth is we took a step back in terms of our performance in the first half,” Potter said. “The response in the second half was good but obviously it wasn’t good enough.”
Big-spending Chelsea - who splashed out around 300 million pounds ($361.05 million) on players in January alone - have now won just two games in their last 14 in all competitions.
They have scored 23 goals in the league so far this season compared with 51 for Arsenal and 60 for Manchester City.
Saturday’s defeat left Chelsea in 10th place, far off a top-four finish needed to qualify for next season’s Champions League. So far, their American owners, who bought the club last year, have stood by Potter, saying they are building for the long term.
Potter said club captain Cesar Azpilicueta was in hospital but was conscious after being kicked in the head in the second half. He was taken off on a stretcher after being treated by medical staff on the pitch for around 10 minutes.
“He’s in hospital, he’s in the best place. He is conscious, he is speaking to his wife, so that’s good,” Potter said. “We were obviously very concerned when it first happened.”