Graham Potter’s decision to start Hakim Ziyech in February’s Premier League defeat to Tottenham ‘set alarm bells ringing’ among the Chelsea board, according to reports.
The Blues’ underwhelming form finally culminated in the sacking of former Brighton head coach Potter on Sunday.
Potter only spent seven months in charge at the club but Chelsea’s owners decided to pull the plug after the Blues slipped into the bottom-half of the league table after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.
Despite only winning 12 of his 31 matches in charge of Chelsea, the club’s owners continued to back Potter through the struggles.
But the Daily Telegraph claim Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have had doubts about Potter for some time and were left concerned after the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in February.
It is claimed Potter’s decision to start Ziyech – who Chelsea tried to sell in January – caused concern among the top brass at Stamford Bridge.
Ziyech was in Paris on transfer deadline day to complete a loan move to PSG but the move fell through due to paperwork issues.
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Given the club’s willingness to offload Ziyech, the 30-year-old was expected to play a limited role for the remainder of the season before leaving west London in the summer.
But Potter chose to start Ziyech against Tottenham and then replaced him with Denis Zakaria with half an hour left as Chelsea chased an equaliser.
Potter’s tactics against Aston Villa were slammed by former Man City defender Micah Richards and the Chelsea owners were also surprised by some of the decision-making.
‘I think tactically Graham Potter has to do more, if I’m being totally honest,’ Richards said on BBC’s Match of the Day.
‘We saw Reece James playing in a back-three, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was playing at right wing-back. Chelsea had so many opportunities down the right-hand side and Reece James should have been there.
‘Benoit Badiashile was on the bench and they’ve got Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan. The whole situation needs sorting ASAP.’