Graham Potter stared at the ground as Kai Havertz took a step forward, potentially releasing the pressure valve that had been tightening on Chelsea’s manager.
Chelsea were given the task of overturning Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 lead from the first leg of this Champions League last-16 tie, and Raheem Sterling’s first-half goal got them halfway there.
Here, however, was Havertz standing over a re-taken penalty with tension at such a boiling point around Stamford Bridge that Potter simply could not bear to watch as the German stepped forward.
The thunderous roars and bearhugs from his backroom staff delivered the good news, and Chelsea went on to complete a victory that was, without a doubt, the best night of Potter’s troubled tenure at Stamford Bridge.
And for Potter, the night and the celebrations that followed on and off the field will serve as a springboard for stability and improvement, as well as the all-important connection with Chelsea’s fans.
Potter has been chastised for being too passive as Chelsea manager, with his calm demeanor on the touchline portrayed as some sort of soft touch, which he understandably denies vehemently.
This Potter was not the same. Chelsea has changed.
He was animated throughout, windmilling his arms in the first few minutes to rally Chelsea’s fans behind their team. Passive? Not in this case.
At the final whistle, Potter’s beaming face lit up Stamford Bridge as he marched towards the Matthew Harding Stand, where he delivered rousing fist pumps in the style of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Potter then blew kisses to the audience, transforming the frustrations and uncertainties of the previous weeks into an outpouring of joy.