Graham Potter and Brendan Rodgers fired

Brighton's head coach Graham Potter during the English FA Cup third round soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Brighton & Hove Albion at the Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Chelsea have announced on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, the appointment of Graham Potter as their new head coach. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)
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LONDON — Chelsea ran out of patience with Graham Potter on Sunday, firing the English manager with the club languishing in the middle of the Premier League standings despite a spending spree on new players totaling $630 million across the last two transfer windows.

The team announced Potter’s departure a day after a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa, which left Chelsea in 11th place, and nearly seven months after taking a gamble on him as the replacement for the fired Thomas Tuchel.

“We have the highest degree of respect for Graham as a coach and as a person,” Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said. “He has always conducted himself with professionalism and integrity and we are all disappointed in this outcome.”

The American ownership’s first managerial appointment ultimately backfired. Potter was brought in on a five-year deal despite his lack of experience coaching at soccer’s biggest clubs — in a somewhat obscure coaching past, the only trophy he’d won was the Swedish Cup in 2017 — and he failed to get the best out of an expensively assembled squad.

Chelsea won just seven of its 22 Premier League games under Potter and is 12 points off the top four, meaning the team is unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Chelsea lost to Manchester City in both domestic cup competitions but has reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, where it was drawn against titleholder Real Madrid with the first leg on April 12.

Bruno Saltor, a member of Potter’s coaching staff, will take charge of Chelsea on an interim basis.

“Graham has agreed to collaborate with the club to facilitate a smooth transition,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea’s next game is against Liverpool on Tuesday.

Brendan Rodgers

Meanwhile, relegation-threatened Leicester fired manager Brendan Rodgers on Sunday in a late-season bid to preserve its Premier League status after the team’s sharp decline.

Leicester’s leadership took the decision with a heavy heart, hailing Rodgers as “one of the most successful managers in the club’s history” while — in the same statement announcing his departure — saying it was a necessary move if the team was to stay in England’s lucrative top division.

Rodgers has been in charge for four years and led Leicester to its first FA Cup title in 2021 as well as back-to-back Europa League qualifications.

Such has been the drop-off this season that Rodgers leaves with Leicester having plunged to third-to-last place with 10 matches remaining after losing five of its last six league games.

“It had been our belief that continuity and stability would be key to correcting our course, particularly given our previous achievements under Brendan’s management,” Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.

“Regrettably, the desired improvement has not been forthcoming and, with 10 games of the season remaining, the board is compelled to take alternative action to protect our Premier League status.”

Rodgers, who previously managed Liverpool and Celtic, was hired in February 2019 to replace Claude Puel with Leicester’s ownership hoping he could get the team challenging the heavyweights of the league again — like they famously did in winning the 2015-16 title despite preseason odds of 5,000-1.

In a long statement, Srivaddhanaprabha said Rodgers gave Leicester “some of our finest footballing moments” and, off the field, “embraced the culture of the club and helped cultivate an outstanding developmental environment.”

But Leicester’s players were no longer responding to Rodgers and there was no sign of an improvement in performance levels. The decision to remove him was taken a day after a 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace, which itself was under a new manager in 75-year-old Roy Hodgson, and two days before a home match against Aston Villa.

First-team coaches Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell have been put in immediate caretaker charge, with Leicester giving no timescale regarding a full-time replacement for Rodgers.

“The task ahead of us in our final 10 games is clear,” Srivaddhanaprabha said. “We now need to come together — fans, players and staff — and show the poise, quality and fight to secure our position as a Premier League club.”

Rodgers was not helped by the club’s belt-tightening in the transfer market for this season, with only one outfield player joining in a summer transfer window featuring record spending by England’s top-flight clubs totaling about $2.2 billion. Leicester actually made a profit of about $65 million in that window.

“This isn’t the club that it was two years ago,” Rodgers said in September, when Leicester was in last place.

Only two teams have conceded more goals than Leicester (49) in the league.

Source: Agencies