Graham Potter admitted to feeling frustration at his team’s failure to turn performances in training into results, but insisted spirits remain high in the Chelsea camp despite their current slump.
Some reports have suggested Potter has two games to save his job, starting with Saturday’s meeting at Stamford Bridge with Premier League strugglers Leeds.
The Blues have not won in the league since beating Crystal Palace on January 15, which was also the last time they scored a goal at home, and slipped 14 points behind the top four with defeat to Tottenham last Sunday.
Performances had started to improve following the club’s £315million outlay in the January transfer window, with the team looking particularly fluent during the 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, but things have since taken an alarming downturn with losses at Tottenham and at home to bottom-side Southampton.
Potter received a further blow with the confirmation that defender Thiago Silva will miss around six weeks with the knee ligament injury he sustained during the defeat to Spurs.
Nevertheless, the manager said the mood remained good and that the players’ application in training warranted better than their current six-game winless streak.
“That’s the frustrating bit for us, because we’re seeing a lot of positives day to day,” said Potter. “But they haven’t been able to transfer themselves onto the pitch in terms of results. Performances haven’t been as bad as results I would say, but we know the business we’re in and the results we haven’t liked.
“But in terms of daily training, how the spirit is in the players, how the group is coming together, the players are getting stronger, that’s all positive. But it’s hard to talk positives because results aren’t good.
“The spirit in the team is as good as it can be when you’re in a period of results that we’re in. They’ve taken responsibility, they understand where we’re at. We all admit we can do better. The players are honest enough to know that they can do better as well. We’re all fighting but we need to show it on the pitch. It has to manifest in three points.”
Potter reiterated that contract negotiations with Mason Mount are being handled by the club amid reports that Liverpool are amongst his suitors.
The England midfielder will miss the game against Leeds with an abdominal injury, while Reece James is out with a tight hamstring and captain Cesar Azpilicueta is still recovering from the concussion he suffered in the defeat to Southampton. N’Golo Kante took part in his first full training session on Friday since his hamstring operation in October.
The manager was eager to take responsibility for results that have left his team in 10th in the league and almost certain to miss out on next season’s Champions League, and said he sympathised with supporters’ frustrations following defeat to struggling Saints in their last home outing.
“It’s understandable, fans care,” he added. “It’s an emotion. However that comes out is understandable. We’re hurting as well, but we also know that they are. It’s understandable. We thank them for their support, because it’s been there completely.
“When you lose at home 1-0 to the bottom team, you expect a negative response. They’ve been fair with us, we haven’t been good enough to give them enough to be excited about with the team.
“Every team in the world has moments where they find it difficult, sometimes you have a moment where everything goes well.
“Our job is to fight through it. There’s no other way. Keep working, sticking together, keep fighting through it and believing we can turn it around, and believing that a win is around the corner.”