Premier League • England

How the last 10 Chelsea managers fared during their first game in charge after Graham Potter debut

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during a Premier League game against Hull City..

Graham Potter was denied a winning start to life as Chelsea boss – but how did his predecessors fare in their first game?

Potter, who replaced Thomas Tuchel in the dugout, looked set to win his first game after Raheem Sterling scored the opener against RB Salzburg in the Champions League group stages but Noah Okafor equalised for the Austrian side.

“We’re disappointed with the result,” he said after the game. “I thought the boys gave everything. We scored a good goal, but lost a bit in the second half but their goalkeeper has made some good saves.

“It is what it is, we have to dust ourselves down. Personality and application was good, we will get better.”

We’ve taken a look at how Chelsea’s last 10 managers fared in their opening games at the club. Note: we’ve included interim managers but not caretaker managers like Steve Holland.

Carlo Ancelotti

Ancelotti took over from Guus Hiddink in the summer of 2009 and celebrated the start of his Chelsea reign with silverware.

His first game in England was a Community Shield clash with Manchester United but Chelsea fell behind after 10 minutes when Nani fired past Petr Cech.

Ancelotti’s side turned things around in the second half and goals from Ricardo Carvalho and Frank Lampard looked set to give them the win, but Wayne Rooney’s injury-time equaliser took the game to penalties.

The reprieve was only temporary for United as Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra both saw their penalties saved, while Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Salomon Kalou all scored from the spot.

Andre Villas-Boas

After Chelsea paid a reported £13.3million in compensation to bring Villas-Boas to Stamford Bridge, expectations were high ahead of the 2011/12 season.

But Villas-Boas’ introduction to the Premier League proved to be a testing and frustrating affair as they were held to a goalless draw by Stoke City.

The Blues had three penalty appeals waved away by referee Mark Halsley and the manager wasn’t happy with Stoke’s physical style of play.

“Whatever the referee decided [about the penalties] he decided,” he said. “But the point I want to make is when you play in difficult games like this is the amount of pushing and grabbing in the box.

“It’s out of this world. We had to deal with Stoke’s set-plays and were competent enough to avoid the dangers they created. But there is a limit to the pushing and grabbing that makes it impossible for referees.

“It’s not pushing the boundaries of fair play. But it is pushing the boundaries on pushing and grabbing. It’s difficult. Referees have to keep their eyes on the ball and be aware of certain situations. In this case, maybe the referee is in need of some help.”

Roberto Di Matteo

When Villas-Boas’ eight month tenure at Chelsea came to an abrupt end in March 2012, Di Matteo was promoted from the assistant manager’s role and became their interim manager.

The former Chelsea midfielder travelled to St. Andrew’s and took charge of an FA Cup fifth round replay against Birmingham City just 48 hours after Villas-Boas’ dismissal.

Neither side were able to find a breakthrough in the first half but Juan Mata and Raul Meireles, who were both signed by Villas-Boas, scored in six second-half minutes.

Mata also had a penalty saved but Birmingham weren’t able to take advantage and Chelsea went through to the quarter-finals.

Rafael Benitez

Despite winning both the Champions League and FA Cup in 2011/12, Di Matteo was sacked in November 2012 following a poor start to the season.

Benitez was named as the interim manager, but he wasn’t the most popular appointment with Chelsea fans due to his association with Liverpool and previous comments about the Blues.

The Spaniard was booed when he was introduced to the crowd before his first game against Manchester City and ‘Rafa Out’ banners were dotted around Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were only able to muster one shot on target against City but they still earned a point by grounding out a dour goalless draw.

Jose Mourinho

After being sacked by Chelsea in 2007, the self-proclaimed Special One returned to the club for a second spell in 2013 and was given a rapturous welcome by the Stamford Bridge faithful before their Premier League opener against Hull City.

Despite the fact that Frank Lampard had a penalty saved in the opening five minutes, Mourinho still enjoyed a happy homecoming. Chelsea dominated the opening half-hour and goals from Oscar and Lampard put them in control.

Hull improved in the second-half but couldn’t force their way back into the game and Mourinho’s side secured a comfortable win.

“I’ve played so many times here and won so many matches here, but we’ve not had so many periods here like that quality,” Mourinho said.

“I’m very happy. We can’t play that way for 90 minutes – we had no energy, no physical energy and no mental availability to play that way. The three boys behind Fernando Torres were fantastic. In the second half they disappeared.”

Guus Hiddink

Hiddink replaced Mourinho midway through the 2015-16 season and became Chelsea’s interim manager for the second time, having previously worked for the club in 2008-09.

He watched from the sidelines as Steve Holland oversaw a 3-1 win over Sunderland and then took charge of a home game against Watford on Boxing Day.

Diego Costa fired Chelsea in front but Nemanja Matic’s handball allowed Troy Deeney to level from the penalty spot. A Gary Cahill own goal gave the visitors the lead before Costa scored his second goal of the game and made it 2-2.

Chelsea then had a great chance to secure all three points in the 80th minute but Oscar slipped and sent his penalty over the crossbar.

Antonio Conte

Conte left the Italy national team for Chelsea after Euro 2016 and enjoyed a dramatic start to his managerial career in England.

Chelsea started the 2016/17 season with a home game against West Ham United and they took the lead shortly after half-time through Eden Hazard’s penalty.

The Hammers looked to have salvaged a point after Dimitri Payet’s corner was turned in by James Collins in the 77th minute but Diego Costa netted a last minute winner for Chelsea, sparking wild celebrations from Conte.

Maurizio Sarri

Having won plenty of plaudits during his time in charge of Napoli, Sarri joined Chelsea on a three-year contract in the summer of 2018.

The Blues faced Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium and initially struggled to get a foothold in the game until N’Golo Kante broke the deadlock in the 34th minute.

Chelsea then started to dominate and Jorginho, who was making his debut, scored a penalty on the stroke of half-time before Pedro made it 3-0 in the closing stages.

Frank Lampard

Lampard replaced Sarri at the end of the 2018/19 season but his tenure as Chelsea manager got off to the worst possible start.

They travelled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season but a brace from Marcus Rashford and goals from Anthony Martial and Daniel James condemned the Blues to a heavy defeat.

The 4-0 loss was the heaviest defeat by a Chelsea manager in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower lost 7-2 at Middlesbrough in December 1978.

Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel became Chelsea managaer in January 2021 and was thrown in at the deep end, taking his place in the dugout for the Premier League game against Wolves just 24 hours after being appointed.

Despite only conducting one training session with the players, he made a lot of changes to the starting XI and chose a 3-4-2-1 system.

Chelsea dominated possession at Stamford Bridge but were unable to find a way past Wolves’ stubborn defence and the game ended in a goalless draw.

READ MORE: Potter told he needs rapid fix for two Chelsea strugglers as pundits name only positive from Salzburg draw