Why Chelsea boss Graham Potter substituted Mykhailo Mudryk at half-time against Fulham
January signings Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernández both started as Chelsea stumbled to a goalless draw against Fulham in the Premier League.
The Chelsea revolution is up and running but perhaps not with quite as much gusto as they would like yet. Big-money signings Enzo Fernández and Mykhailo Mudryk started at Stamford Bridge for the first time against Premier League rivals Fulham but were unable to inspire the Blues to victory, with the Cottagers holding out for a goalless draw. And it was a night to forget for the Ukrainian, who was substituted by boss Graham Potter at half-time.
Where are Chelsea in the Premier League table?
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly had rolled the dice by splashing bucketloads of cash in the January transfer window as they club desperately try to claw their way back into the fight for a Champions League place but they have serious work to do in the second half of the season. As things stand, the Londoners sit in ninth place in the table, nine points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played a game fewer.
While Fernández made a lively, all-action debut for the club, particularly in the first half, Mudryk very much failed to live up to the hype surrounding him since his move from Shakhtar Donetsk and was hooked by Potter at half-time. The numbers would tend to side with the Chelsea boss, as, according to WhoScored, the Ukrainian had no shots on goal, completed zero dribbles, had fewer touches of the ball than anyone on his team other than goalkeeper Kepa and fewer than anyone in the Fulham side.
Mudryk made a hugely promising start to his Chelsea career from the bench in the match away to Liverpool – which also ended 0-0 – but what happened here?
Potter’s reasons for taking Mudryk off at half-time against Fulham
Potter gave interviews to different broadcasters after the match and hinted at two different reasons as to why Mudryk was placed by fellow January signing Noni Madueke at half-time.
Speaking to Qatar-based beIN Sports, Potter explained: “It’s always that way sometimes with the young players. He also had a really heavy cold as well. He’s suffered a little bit with that this week. So he was just feeling a little heavy-legged at half-time. We didn’t want to take any risks with him.”
UK broadcaster Sky Sports, meanwhile, got a slightly different version of events: “We didn’t want to take a chance with him. He’s still in a process where we’re building up his minutes because of the break that he’s been on in Ukraine. So that was the decision there.”
The last time Mudryk played 90 minutes was all the way back on 23 November last year for Shakhtar against Vorskla Poltava in the Ukrainian Premier League, so Potter’s claims certainly make sense. Chelsea will hope their €70 million man gets up to speed before too long, with the Champions League last 16 clash against Borussia Dortmund just around the corner.
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