Graham Potter praised Chelsea’s character as his struggling side eased the pressure on their beleaguered boss with a battling 1-0 win against Leeds on Saturday.
Wesley Fofana’s 53rd minute header from Ben Chilwell’s corner lifted Chelsea to just their third victory in their last 16 games in all competitions.
It was Chelsea’s first goal in 396 minutes and just their second in seven games in all competitions as they languish in 10th place in the Premier League.
Potter had waited 48 days to see his team score a goal at Stamford Bridge, a period that had seen the Blues boss come under sustained fire.
Chelsea fans had called for his sacking, with death threats even aimed at the former Brighton manager and his family.
“The boys are giving everything. We’re playing against one of the best teams in the league in terms of intensity. If the game starts to become Hawaii (flamboyant) football, up and down, it can be a challenge for us,” Potter said.
“But they stuck at it. The crowd were great, they want us to do well. They want us to win with more comfort, and we all want that. But the moment we’re in, it’s not so easy to do.
“Probably the second half was a bit of ‘we’ve got something to lose’, which is where you’d expect us to be given the run we’ve had. It’s really good for the players to win a game and have that feeling.”
Ending a run of three successive defeats will give Potter a little breathing space ahead of Chelsea’s bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund.
“It’s good for confidence, good for morale. The boys are suffering because they care, they do. Our supporters have been suffering as well,” Potter said.
“It’s been a tough period for us. The win gives us a chance to recover, and to prepare for a massive game (against Borussia Dortmund) on Tuesday night.”
Former Leicester centre-back Fofana was making his first Chelsea start since the knee injury he sustained against AC Milan in the Champions League in October.
Potter believes Fofana has the potential to lead by example in the absence of injured veteran defender Thiago Silva.
“We’ve missed Wesley. It was the Milan game at home when he had his injury, that’s a long time ago,” Potter said.
“He brings something different, he lets you defend a little bit higher up the pitch because he’s got the pace and physicality to recover.
“He’s a young player, he’s adapting to Chelsea. He’s got the personality.”
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