Graham Potter refused to chuck Chelsea’s players “under the bus” as he took responsibility for a humiliating 4-1 Premier League thrashing on his return to former club Brighton.
Blues boss Potter endured mocking taunts of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” from gleeful Seagulls supporters during a chastening afternoon at a raucous Amex Stadium.
Rampant Albion raced into a commanding half-time lead, with own goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah compounding Chelsea’s misery following Leandro Trossard’s early opener.
Kai Havertz pulled a goal back just after the restart but the visitors were unable to prevent a first defeat in 10 games since the sacking of Thomas Tuchel as Pascal Gross rubbed salt into the wound in added time.
“It’s the Premier League, so everywhere is difficult,” said Potter, who is waiting to discover the extent of the foot injury which forced off goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga at the break.
“Brighton are a good side, I know that and with the crowd and the atmosphere they created, they put you under pressure.
“We made a couple of unforced errors to start everything off but that can happen.
“I’m not going to throw the players under the bus at all because they’ve been brilliant for us – they’ve given everything for me.
“I have to take responsibility and try to find a way for us to do better.”
Potter returned to Sussex with six wins and three draws from his first nine fixtures at Stamford Bridge and looking to inflict further punishment on a Seagulls side who began the day with just two points from a possible 15 since his departure.
He received jeers – and a smattering of applause – when he stepped off the team coach, while there were further boos when he emerged from the tunnel.
Brighton fed off their fans’ hostile energy and quickly took control of the contest during a blistering start in which chants of “Potter, what’s the score?” grew louder, followed by playful questioning of his job security.
Despite feeling bitterness from the stands, Potter insisted he had nothing to apologise for following his switch to west London seven weeks ago.
“I didn’t have any expectations,” he said of the reception.
“I have nothing to say sorry for, I have nothing to apologise for. I did a good job.
“You can see the team’s a good team. I took over when they were fourth from bottom in the Premier League, probably the third worst team.
“There’s a lot of money been raised in terms of player sales and there are a lot of good players on the pitch.
“I hope for their sake the next managers do as good a job and that’s brilliant for them.”
The remarkable result was Brighton’s maiden victory under head coach Roberto De Zerbi and a first over Chelsea since 1933.
Italian De Zerbi feels he has already found a new “family” on the south coast after the invasion of Ukraine – led by Russian president Vladimir Putin – forced him to leave his previous job as Shakhtar Donetsk coach.
“Today I am very happy for myself, for my staff because we have been through eight really tough months,” he said.
“I had already a team, a great team that Putin decided to take away from me.
“In this moment I have found another team. I have to be thankful with the players of Brighton, with the club, how they have welcomed me and how I have felt straight away since the first moment that they trust me.
“To find again a family, an atmosphere that is letting you feel like part of the environment, it’s something very nice and I have to be very thankful to Brighton.”