After a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup, Chelsea made the trip down to Craven Cottage in desperate need of a positive result.
The SW6 Derby has historically been a Blue affair, yet most fans expected Fulham to clinch a famous victory, solely on account of Chelsea’s miserable state.
Since Club Football resumed, the Blues have won just once in 5 games, and last night’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fulham was yet another low during Graham Potter‘s dismal managerial reign so far.
Under the Englishman, Chelsea have played 18 games and recorded only 8 victories, with 6 of those being losses.
The displays on the pitch have lacked spark and cohesion, showing no apparent signs of a prospective comeback.
Safe to say, things are pretty dire at Stamford Bridge.
Accustomed to doses of instant success as was customary during the Roman Abramovich era, impatient fans are already calling for Potter’s head.
Despite overseeing transformative spells at Ostersund and Brighton, the 47-year-old has already lost a sizable chunk of his credibility at Chelsea.
In fact, his stock has dwindled to such an extent that fans are also claiming that current Brighton gaffer Roberto De Zerbi has already eclipsed Potter’s spell in charge.
The Italian has had a fine start to life at Brighton, and his blistering style of football has already captivated the club’s supporters.
As a result, a portion of Brighton fans on Twitter have been suggesting that De Zerbi has already taken the side to new heights, sparking a De Zerbi vs Potter debate on the platform.
Up until yesterday, the debate was mostly confined to Twitter reply sections, but that soon changed, as talkSPORT presenter Alex Crook brought up the notion on the show.
During a Potter-centric discussion, the presenter said “I don’t think Potter’s been helped by De Zerbi coming in at Brighton and actually propelling them to a new level. I speak to people at Brighton all the time and there are players in that dressing room that say ‘De Zerbi is better than Potter’.
His comments soon flooded the airwaves, further stirring the pot that was already bubbling before Chelsea’s latest defeat to Fulham.
But for objectivity’s sake, is Alex Crook actually onto something?
Well, unless he’s willing to provide some evidence of the ‘people’ he had these conversations with, the answer is no.
The idea that De Zerbi has outshined Potter’s work at Brighton is a trendy opinion, one that you can easily accumulate by taking a stroll through Brighton’s Twitter.
The reason behind these suggestions is a blend of being amazed by De Zerbi’s unique build-up patterns and the lingering saltiness from the manner in which Potter departed Brighton.
As for ‘propelling them to a new level’, there is certainly evidence of advancement under the Italian, but not nearly as substantial as it is made out to be.
A gander at the stats will tell you that Brighton has won 4 of 11 Premier Leagues games under De Zerbi, with 3 of those victories coming against sides in the bottom half of the table.
While De Zerbi adapted to English Football relatively quickly, it’s important to mention that he inherited a well-balanced squad built by his predecessor.
In contrast, Potter was handed a disjointed unit, all while the club itself is currently undergoing an administrative upheaval.
Incorporating the cliched concept of ‘new manager bounce’ is also significant, even Potter had an impressive first month at Chelsea before a startling number of injuries bundled up and matters worsened.
De Zerbi’s patterns of play have always been a point of fascination amongst Football aficionados, making the amazement Brighton fans are currently undergoing a little predictable.
The notion that Potter’s work is already left in the dust before even the halfway point of the season is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction, with very little to back it up.
The Italian manager certainly has all the tools to eventually trump his predecessor’s spell in charge, but at the moment, that is far from the case.