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Tuchel’s £27m double Gallagher mistake at Chelsea as Potter has 13 ways to win

Graham Potter knows all about Conor Gallagher. The midfielder scored a brilliant goal against his Brighton side last season in the fiercely contested rivalry with Crystal Palace.

The goal, which went on to be voted as the club’s best of the month in the Premier League, was capped off by Gallagher’s finishing touch after every player was involved in the build-up for the Eagles. It was a goal that, through Gallagher’s driving run into the box, picking the exact right time to enter the action and score with calmness, demonstrated everything that is good about the 22-year-old.

It nearly won Palace the game, though Brighton equalised in the last minute and the drama slightly overshadowed the quality of Gallagher’s goal.

Nine months later and Potter is managing Gallagher; he’s even used the player as he was brought on as a second-half substitute against RB Salzburg in his first match in-charge. It was a debut in the competition for Gallagher who didn’t get on the field in Thomas Tuchel’s last game, something that has been a theme so far this season.

Considering the midfield set-up available to Tuchel, but his continued selection of Gallagher in all but his favoured position was proof of how much the England midfield was struggling. First he was used as a makeshift pivot player, falling short of discipline and control, then he was used again in that spot and struggled before being moved into the front three where he is also far from suited to.

In Potter’s brief use of Gallagher there appears a much more balanced role for him. This makes him a valuable addition from last season, helping the midfield depth and Pat Nevin believes that the time off for international duty as well as extra sessions on the training pitch this week will be of benefit to both Gallagher Potter.

“This might actually help Chelsea this time as we have a decent-sized squad with good depth of quality,” the former Scottish winger wrote on the club website. “Having all these games so close will allow the manager the opportunity to fully understood and integrate the players.

“I well recall Conor Gallagher being sent out on loan to Crystal Palace after one single short pre-season appearance on the south coast (Bournemouth), while playing out of position. It wasn’t enough time to get to know him and his abilities, but the manager back then didn’t have enough time to check everyone out.

“This term, and indeed this coming month of October, will give the new head coach time to really see who does and doesn’t fit into the Potter plan.”

Potter faces a run of nine matches in October, a period that will define how Chelsea are positioned heading into the winter World Cup. Throughout this period he will need to use all of his squad and the energy and goalscoring options that Gallagher brings shows what Tuchel missed last season during a similarly testing spell over winter.

Gallagher’s eight league goals were matched only by Mason Mount, 11, Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz, both eight, last season. With the front-line still struggling this season and Gallagher’s ability to arrive late into the box on-top of his more defined role as a No.8 in Potter’s first Chelsea side, he has a key part to play alongside the other players that missed out against Salzburg.

“Even a quick look at who didn’t start against Salzburg shows the impressive options of what is and what will become, available,” Nevin added. “This isn’t a bad team: Mendy; Fofana, Chalobah, Koulibaly; Ziyech, Loftus-Cheek, Kante, Chilwell; Pulisic, Gallagher; Broja.

“On top of this, Denis Zakaria and Carney Chukwuemeka are players who could have a notable impact in their first season. Among others, they would still make it a strong bench for this alternative team.”

Balancing the fixture schedule with looking at players and also trying to win games, improve the atmosphere at the club and implementing his own system will be a massive test for Potter in the coming month. He’s got the players with quality to help him

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