Graham Potter has been told that it is time for tin hats at Chelsea and that he must fight through the boos and calls for him to be sacked.
Chelsea co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have no plans to sack head coach Potter ahead of Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, despite a run of just two wins in 14 Premier League games.
The defeat to Southampton was greeted by loud booing and calls for Potter to be sacked, and there is a danger of the atmosphere turning toxic if Chelsea lose again to London rivals Tottenham.
But Potter is understood to have received messages of support from the board and a senior source told Telegraph Sport: “The message to Graham has been to put on his tin hat and fight through it.”
It is understood that Boehly is due to be at the Tottenham game, with Eghbali expected to watch the Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund matches after the pair witnessed the Southampton defeat at Stamford Bridge together.
Potter retains their faith, with insiders claiming the commitment of Boehly and Eghbali to the 47-year-old remains long-term, and that the preferred plan is to allow him to complete the season and then have a full campaign in charge of Chelsea before making any further evaluations.
Whether that will be possible after the Tottenham game if results continue to go badly and calls for Potter to leave grow louder remains to be seen, but Boehly and Eghbali are understood to be hopeful that the opinions of his critics can be changed by performances and victories.
Boehly and Eghbali have shelled out over £600 million on new players since buying Chelsea from previous owner Roman Abramovich, but roughly half of that was spent before Potter was appointed and there is recognition that he has had less than a month to work with the January signings who were bought specifically for him.
Other than the dreadful run of results, Potter has come under fire for his team selections, having made a host of changes for the defeat to Southampton and his manner on the touchline and in press conferences.
But Telegraph Sport can exclusively reveal that Potter was advised by Chelsea’s medical team that Reece James, Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz, Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling would all risk serious injury by starting against Southampton.
The decision to follow medical advice and rest James and Silva completely, while starting with Havertz, Mudryk and Sterling on the bench, has received the full backing of the Chelsea board who are impressed that Potter put the team and his players ahead of his own reputation.
There is also backing from the board for Potter’s decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his Champions League and Premier League squads, despite Chelsea’s goalscoring problems. Aubameyang has reacted well to his demotion but is still expected to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
Other than retaining the support of Boehly and Eghbali, it is seen as significant that one of Chelsea’s co-sporting directors, Paul Winstanley, worked with Potter at Brighton and has been a big advocate of his qualities. Laurence Stewart, the Blues’ other sporting director, is also viewed as a key figure.
A senior source added: “Graham has shown he is a team player and not just looking out for himself. Of course, losing at home to Southampton was unacceptable, but this is a painful rebuild and it’s bigger than one result or a bad run.”
Chelsea’s board are not worried by Potter’s demeanour and are impressed that he has not looked to blame others or throw his players and members of staff under the bus following disappointing results.
The public image the former Brighton man displays is thought to be different from his personality behind the scenes, which is described as “intense” with Cobham sources claiming he has engaged in tough discussions with his players inside the dressing-room and at the training ground.
Sources have also rejected any suggestion that Potter has not been sacked because of the amount of compensation he would be due from Chelsea after signing a five-year contract worth up to £12 million a year.
The source pointed out that it is common practice for clubs to include termination clauses in contracts but also stressed that scenario has not been considered or looked into at this stage.