Bruno Saltor, Chelsea’s new interim first-team coach, has admitted the aftermath of mentor Graham Potter’s sacking has been ‘really difficult’.
Potter brought Saltor with him from Brighton in September last year, but on Sunday, after just shy of seven months, it was announced he would be leaving the club after a disastrous 31-game spell in charge.
His one-time assistant was at the same time announced as the club’s new interim manager, taking over duties while a thorough process is conducted to find Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s third manager of a reign that is yet to celebrate its first birthday.
Speaking ahead of the club’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, Saltor spoke of his sadness at seeing Potter and his long-time assistant Billy Reid depart the club.
‘It’s been difficult at every single level,’ he said. ‘You have to deal with the press conference, the players, the relationship with Graham and Billy, how it effects their family. A really difficult 12 hours.
Bruno Saltor was announced as the club’s new interim first-team coach following Graham Potter’s sacking
Saltor arrived at the club with Potter from Brighton last September and will remain
Todd Boehly, the club’s co-owner, is searching for a third manager in a reign that has not yet lasted a year
‘First of all it is a sad day. A sad day for staff because Graham and Billy leaving, two top coaches, top people, top human beings,’ he added. ‘How I see it is, I have to be the most professional I can. Try to help the players, guide the players to prepare the game the best we can.
‘I just spoke to Graham five minutes ago and he sent his regards to all of you. Obviously it’s been a difficult 24 hours for all of us, for the staff, for the families and now we just have to deal with the situation.’
Perhaps shining light on the process that followed Potter’s sacking, with the club writing in their statement on Sunday night that the former Brighton boss had agreed to ‘collaborate to ensure a smooth transition’, Saltor revealed Potter deemed it appropriate for him to take the reins.
‘If I am here right now, it’s because Graham and the club they thought it was the right step and I’m here just trying to help the club and trying to be the most professional I can,’ he said.
Asked to expand on the ‘collaborate aspect of the statement, he added: ‘It probably means that I’m here right now. Just trying to keep the process going and we just try to go along the best we can and I think Graham did an amazing job. Football is a really complex business and we have to keep going.’
The former Brighton player also revealed he had spoken to the owners, but not the players, before outlining that they all had a ‘responsibility’ to keep going and remain positive.
‘I couldn’t see the players yet,’ he said. ‘We’ve got an afternoon session planned, I’m going to see them now. I’m going to speak to them.
‘The responsibility is all of us. We are responsible and we have to keep it positive, try to focus on the next game and that’s the energy we’re working with.’
However, when asked about Tuesday’s clash, he said that it was an ‘opportunity’ for the players ahead of the final straight.
Chelsea’s chances of getting into the Champions League have been all-but extinguished, but they remain in the competition and face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
‘Seeing it as an opportunity for the players. We are representing Chelsea. A club with an amazing history, it is about winning, it is about dominating and what we need to do is prepare for the game.’
Having already fired two managers, it is the owners’ objective now to find a name who is able to get the best out of a playing squad that has gone through monumental change in the last seven or eight months.
Saltor, though, said he felt the backing of the owners, and believed he could help young players in an unusual situation for them.
Graham Potter was sacked as Chelsea boss after just shy of seven months on Sunday evening
The former Brighton boss oversaw the club’s slide down the table since taking over last year
‘Obviously it is a massive challenge. I have been just four years coaching but I have been 20 years involved in football,’ he said. ‘I start really early and I have a lot of experience in changing room.
‘What I will try to do is help the players, guide the players because I have been in those situation before. Then I think I have got that feeling that I can help, especially young players that have never been in this situation before.’
Over £600m has been spent on the squad, with a host of young players brought in as the club look to build a side that can compete for years to come.
Former Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann is the leading contender to take over, with contact having already been made through intermediaries.