Every word Graham Potter said on Real Madrid, Everton, James, Kante return, Mount, Sterling| SolSportHQ

Every word Graham Potter said on Real Madrid, Everton, James, Kante return, Mount, Sterling| All Football

Every word Graham Potter said on Real Madrid, Everton, James, Kante return, Mount, Sterling| SolSportHQ

The Chelsea head coach faced the media this afternoon to preview the Premier League clash against Everton and react to the Champions League quarter-final draw against Real Madrid

What’s your reaction to the Champions League quarter-final draw with Real Madrid – do you still think you can *bleep* win the Champions League?

“I said we would try to *bleep* win the Champions League! That’s the same for every seven clubs. They will also say that they could lose in the quarter-final because that’s the nature of the Champions League. We’ll focus on Real Madrid when we get there. At the moment, it’s Everton.”

Did your heart sink a little, though, when it came out as Real Madrid?

“The feeling is excitement but, as I’ve said, I’d rather speak about Everton because that’s the game tomorrow. The other stuff is a long way away.”

You did seem a little bit more relaxed in that video compared to a couple of weeks ago?

“It was a nice event in front of a thousand or so supporters. The atmosphere was good. It was a good evening.”

Is life a little bit better?

“After three wins, of course. It’s always nice to win. Results give everybody belief and happiness. That is what we’re here for. We’re here to win.”

Did you have to overcome some doubts?

“It’s a difficult moment for us all connected with the club because the results weren’t what we wanted. We all have to deal with that and I have to take that responsibility. If the results aren’t good enough, I accept whatever criticism comes my way and I have to deal with that. You have to come through the tough moments. It’s all very well managing Chelsea when it’s all going well. You have to deal with it when it’s not going so well. I tried to do that as best I could.”

What’s the biggest change? Or is it perhaps just a change of luck?

“It’s handy to have that. You need that. As much as you can be good, it’s also important to be lucky. But you can’t wait for that to come around. You need to keep going. Sometimes in football, you don’t get the rewards, and you have to have to fight through a storm. There was a storm, absolutely, but we’ve come out of it with three wins. We need to carry it on. We’ve got a tough game against Everton. Sean Dyche has done a great job since he’s gone in. So we’re looking forward to that challenge in front of our supporters.”

What’s the latest on Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount?

“Raheem has a problem with his hamstring. It’s not too serious but he’ll miss the game at the weekend and he’ll miss the international trip. It’s the same for Mason. He has been struggling a little bit with his pubic bone. He wasn’t 100% in the last game and still isn’t quite there. So he’ll miss the England camp. Thiago [Silva] is still away. Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] is still away. N’Golo [Kante] has a chance of being in the squad.”

How good does that feel on N’Golo?

“It’s the first time so it’s fantastic.”

Thoughts on Patrick Vieira being sacked by Crystal Palace?

“It’s never nice to hear when a colleague loses their job. I have huge respect for Patrick; he is a gentleman. I think the way he has conducted himself has been exemplary. But that’s football and the business. We’re at the mercy of that and it’s not for me to say what clubs should and shouldn’t do. It’s part of the job but I wish him well. He’s a top person and a top manager.”

Is being a Premier League manager becoming more precarious?

“I wouldn’t use the word precarious. Difficult yes, but it’s the highest level so it shouldn’t be easy. We all go into it with our eyes open. We know the consequences and you have to deal with them. We speak a lot about perspective and there are a lot of people worse off than us. So nobody is asking for pity or sympathy. But it’s a pressurised job because football is emotional and means a lot to people. So we’re under scrutiny and pressure and we have to deal with it.”

Where do you think Chelsea will finish in the Premier League?

“Where we are now is to focus on Everton. There are three points up for grabs against a tough team, a team that has gone in the right direction with Sean. They play to their strengths and that’s all we can focus on. We don’t worry about what we’re going to do in May or June. We’re going to focus on tomorrow.”

How important is defending set-pieces against Everton?

“They are strong in that area; the data would suggest that. It’s something they do well but it’s not the only thing they do well. They do a lot well. They defend high and low well, they attack with clarity, and they use the resources they have well. I have huge respect for Sean because of how he affects the team and players. It will be a tough game.”

How difficult is it to play a Sean Dyche side that is fighting for survival?

“Wherever they are, it’s always difficult. He is a fantastic coach, firstly, and his record is impressive. To do what he did at Burnley was a fantastic achievement and you can see the effect he’s had on Everton. They play to their strengths, are incredibly motivated, and have clarity in all the phases. So we’re under no illusions, we know how difficult the game is. It’s a fantastic test for us at home in front of our supporters and off the back of three wins. We’ll have to play well.”

Is it right to fly to away games in the UK given the impact it has?

“It’s something we increasingly have to look at and something we have to do better with. That is my personal opinion and that isn’t to say it’s straightforward because they are factors. But it is an area we can improve.

Is it easy to underestimate how much N’Golo has been missed – and how big a boost is it for Real Madrid?

“Managers before me have spoken very highly about N’Golo because he is a top, top player. He has been a huge miss to us, that’s not to say other players haven’t given absolutely everything, they have. But N’Golo Kante is a top player. It’s great for us that he’s back, we need to be mindful of the fact that he’s had a long injury, we need to make the next steps to get him up to speed in the Premier League, which is what we will do. But it’s great to have him with us.”

Is the time to get him up to speed for Real Madrid – significant?

“Yes. When you have a player injured for that length of time, you have to take those steps regardless of what our situation is, to take the steps to get him up to speed, get him back to the player he is in a responsible way, doing it as safely as we can which enables him to take the right steps to go forward. Once he is at his highest level he is a huge player for us.”

You will be going up against Carlo Ancelotti in the Premier League, what do you make of him as a coach?

“I don’t know him personally. I played against him when he coached at Everton. He is a gentleman and there isn’t much more I can say for the respect I have for him given what he has achieved in his career. It’s amazing. The length of time between his first and last Champions League wins – twenty years – it’s incredible.”

You’ve used a back three in the last three games, what made you decide that was the right system for you?

“We had a couple of injuries which can change the dynamic of our side. We looked at the performance of the team and thought we needed to adjust things. The back three felt a better way for us to go. In terms of how we attack and defend, it felt better for us.”

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