• Brighton have afforded Potter time, patience and a willingness to regard any spell of indifferent results as part of the process - clemencies not afforded to Chelsea’s manager.
• Potter has not had to deal with the bigger egos and signings brought in at vast expense prior to his arrival when walking into his previous clubs.
Chelsea may be regarded as having rolled the dice by appointing Brighton manager Graham Potter as successor to sacked Thomas Tuchel, but the feeling might just be mutual.
The 47-year-old Solihull-born Potter has forged an outstanding reputation with his work at Brighton, following on from success at Ostersunds FK in Sweden and Swansea City, producing an attractive brand of football and a growing list of notable successes.
Potter, however, has yet to be tested in the sort of hothouse Chelsea will provide, a far cry from the stable working environment that has allowed him to work so superbly at Brighton, getting the freedom to create and build in the manner that has worked so well on the south coast.
Brighton have afforded Potter time, patience and a willingness to regard any spell of indifferent results as part of the process - clemencies not afforded to Chelsea’s manager.
Potter has not had to deal with the bigger egos and signings brought in at vast expense prior to his arrival when walking into his previous clubs.
‘Tuchel sacking shows Chelsea’s ruthlessness again’
If appointing Potter represents a gamble for Chelsea because he will be under pressure and scrutiny he has never experienced before, then the same will apply to the latest inhabitant of the Premier League’s hottest seat.
Good reputations can be built slowly but wrecked quickly, given Chelsea’s unique demands in previous years. This will all have figured heavily in Potter’s thinking before taking on the job, but the lure of fighting for silverware at the sharp end of the Premier League allied to competing in the Champions League proved irresistible.
Potter’s appointment sits comfortably with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s preferred strategy, according to those with knowledge of how the American wants to operate.
Boehly has shown shades of predecessor Roman Abramovich’s ruthlessness by sacking Tuchel after his first 100 days in control and shortly after sanctioning the biggest spending laid out in one transfer window by any British club, £255.3m according to financial services firm Deloitte.
The American’s wider aim, however, is to appoint a long-term manager who will be part of a collaborative structure at Chelsea that Tuchel appeared to find so difficult and who will develop the players he has at his disposal.
This is where Potter fits the bill.
Potter’s calm, measured management has demonstrated all of these qualities and can be seen in one of the players he inherits at Chelsea: the former Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella, signed for £15m from Getafe than sold on for a deal that could be worth £62m after only one season.
He has the sort of down-to-earth self-deprecating approach that will serve him well when putting the occasional madness at Stamford Bridge into context, not least when mocking his own name.
Potter once said: “It’s hard to be a sexy name when you are called Potter, especially if your first name is Graham. Then it becomes even more difficult to be sexy. Add into that a long face and a ginger beard, all the rest of it, and I just have to stick to being a football coach and work with the players.”
The dry humour hides an inner steel which has got Potter to Chelsea and which already has him marked out as a potential successor to England manager Gareth Southgate.
Graham Potter ‘coaches intelligence into players’
Potter was not afraid to articulate his unhappiness to Brighton fans after they booed the team off following a goalless home draw against Leeds United in November 2021.
He said: “I’m a little bit perplexed by the reaction of the crowd. They are entitled to their opinions but I disagree with them completely. We are sitting eighth in the Premier League but maybe I need a history lesson on this football club.”
Potter could have taken the easier option and stayed silent but clearly felt he must speak out at what he regarded as an injustice to his players from their own Brighton support.
There were no complaints as Brighton finished ninth at the end of a season which included successive away wins at Arsenal and Spurs and a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United while the current campaign started with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. It also contained an outstanding 5-2 win at home to Leicester City that put them in the top four before Chelsea’s approach.
Potter’s previous work breeds confidence that he will succeed at Chelsea, albeit in alien surroundings to his previous jobs. Tuchel’s relationship with some players had fractured but Potter’s composed personality will help the healing process, as will the widespread and increasing respect for what he has achieved at the Amex Stadium.
The risk comes with the expectations that claimed Tuchel and the permanent pressure cooker at Chelsea, where the demands for instant success could mean even Boehly’s best intentions about managerial longevity will be tested.
Potter is happy to poke fun at his own lack of glamour, which surfaced again when set against other names listed alongside him as odds were taken on Tuchel’s successor, such as Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino, but the way he has elevated Brighton and the style with which he has done it should mean he is given a warm welcome at Stamford Bridge.
He has a tough task after a poor start to the Premier League season and the disappointing opening to Chelsea’s Champions League campaign with the defeat by Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia that was the precursor to Tuchel’s demise.
Potter is not without European experience of course, including a famous 2-1 win with Ostersunds FK at Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in the Europa League in February 2018 when they briefly threatened to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit.
He must step up another level at Chelsea but most sound judges believe Potter is more than capable of coping with what he has taken on.
Chelsea clearly believe, having watched Potter at work with Brighton, that he is a gamble worth taking and this highly rated, intelligent manager feels the same.