7 September 2022

Merson Says: Zidane Not Potter For Chelsea | Why Sign Aubameyang?  (Sky Sports)

Paul MersonIn his latest Sky Sports column, Paul Merson discusses Chelsea’s decision to sack Thomas Tuchel and why he believes appointing Zinedine Zidane would have made more sense than turning to Brighton boss Graham Potter.

Tuchel was sacked on Wednesday following defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in their opening Champions League fixture of the season and a stuttering start to their Premier League campaign.

The decision comes after Chelsea spent record sums in the summer transfer window with Tuchel as a key part of the decision-making process under new owner Todd Boehly.

The decision to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was attributed to the working relationship forged with Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund but that has not kept the German in a job.

Tuchel sack surprises me after Aubameyang

I did not see it coming. They won the other day. They beat West Ham 2-1. Yes, they rode their luck with VAR but it was still a win. Then they go away to Zagreb, not the easiest place to go to, play a couple of fringe players and get beat. But there are five more games left in that Champions League group.

Let's be honest, they have brought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in for Thomas Tuchel. They have not brought him in for any other reason. Now Tuchel has gone. I just don't get it. Why would you bring in Aubameyang and then get rid of Tuchel?

People tell me it has been brewing but if it had been brewing then why are you bringing in a player because the current manager tells you he has worked with him before and knows him? I do not think any other manager is going to be excited by Aubameyang.

Any other manager who comes in could easily say they don't want him. Tuchel has spent £200m on players and now someone else has to work with them.

Chelsea could regret sacking an elite manager

There are not too many elite managers around the world. Chelsea had one. He has won the Champions League. Managed top teams. For me, he is an elite manager and they have let one go.

We saw the difference that can make the other day at Old Trafford with Mikel Arteta. Elite managers would not have done what he did.

I see Tottenham this season get ripped to shreds in the first half by Wolves the other week. They came out in the second half and there was only one team going to win it and that was Tottenham. Because he is an elite manager, he changes things around. He sees it.

You need an elite manager to train elite players, in my opinion. You do not go and buy a racehorse for a million pounds and get the bloke from the local stables to train it.

Potter was better suited to the Man Utd job

I like Potter. I think he is a good manager. Apart from Manchester City, the best team I saw at Stamford Bridge last season was Brighton. They were unbelievable. Potter makes teams better. He improves players.

But is that the job at Chelsea? I think he could have got the Manchester United job. There are more youngsters at Manchester United and it needs a bit of rebuilding. What needs rebuilding at Chelsea? Every player is a £50m player.

These are internationals with a million caps between them. You just have to look after them. You don't have to teach them the game. It is horses for courses.

Potter would find players and make them better. He is a project manager. Give him five years and he will rip it up. That is not Chelsea's philosophy. Chelsea's philosophy is to go out and buy the best players. I just do not see it at Chelsea. He could be out of a job in a year.

The way Chelsea are, the way it is run, how long are you going to be in the job for? They won the Champions League last year. They lost two cup finals on penalties this year.

Zidane is a better fit for Chelsea's philosophy

For me, the only one who ticks the box is Zinedine Zidane. He is a legend. Nobody is questioning him. He was one of the best players in the world and he has managed Real Madrid. He has managed top-drawer players.

He is not a manager who wants to be around for five years and build a project, he just wants it now. He is not going to build a team. He wants a team that is full of superstars already. People will listen to him.

You have to remember that Tuchel lost two shootouts last season - not his fault - to a team that were unbelievable. He won the Champions League the year before. Now he is out of work.

You cannot give it to Graham Potter for five years and tell him to build something. It is not that job. It is a Zinedine Zidane job. He would settle for two years. If he has not won anything by then he would be the first to say he is moving on.

Potter over Rodgers shows that timing is key

Brighton have just scored five goals playing lovely football and looking like the Harlem Globetrotters. But I also remember when he was getting booed last year. They were going mad. They could not win a game or score a goal for toffee. It is timing.

It is all about timing. Who is doing well at the moment? Let's be honest, if Leicester are second in the league right now then Brendan Rodgers is going to Chelsea. If Rodgers had started this season well rather than Potter then he would have been a no-brainer.

He has missed out on the Champions League with Leicester twice on the final day of the season, finished eighth and won an FA Cup final. He would have been the biggest shoo-in ever. He has managed at a big club already so he can handle big players.

Potter is going from high school to Oxford Uni

It is an unbelievable opportunity for Potter. It might not come again. But he will be pulling his hair out tonight. I don't think people realise. He won't be doing cartwheels because it is such a big decision. I feel sorry for him in a way. It is a hard decision to make.

You are going from one extreme to the other. It is like going from high school and then someone tells you that you are going to Oxford University tomorrow. You would be thinking, 'I have not worked at that level before, I am not ready for that.'

He has come from Sweden and now he is at Brighton. They lost to Fulham last week which I thought was a shock but you did not hear much about it. Nobody went mad did they? Chelsea get beat at Leeds and it is mayhem. That is the difference.

He has all that to come.