Today Brighton & Hove Albion have announced that the man replacing Chris Hughton will be Graham Potter. A man who had done an incredible job at Ostersunds in Sweden before presiding over a mid-table finish for a newly-relegated Swansea team. By common consent, Swansea fans think Potter did a very good job: patching together a young side that remained competitive whilst continuing the recent and proud Swansea tradition of playing the ball along the carpet. But even if Potter has excelled in both the roles he’s held – does he really deserve a shot in the Premier League? Or does he just have a very good agent?Embed from Getty Images
Let’s be clear – Brighton didn’t stay up by much this season. Towards the end of the season they had some terrible results; most notably at home to Bournemouth and Cardiff. In an earlier article I wrote, I explained that I agreed with the removal of Chris Hughton by the Brighton board, despite that view quite possibly being in the minority. I felt it was good timing as Hughton’s side had gone backwards and the turgid tactics were not helping his case. Nevertheless this Brighton side are built on industry, grit and honesty; very much in the image of their former boss.
Brighton didn’t stay up by much this season and have a squad that whilst possessing some good players, in particular at the back, is threadbare of flair, creativity and guile. They are the sort of team who you would feel relatively comfortable being 1-0 up against. To be fair to him, Glenn Murray has performed wonders bearing in mind his age and the team he’s playing in but the reliance on him is an inditement on their attacking flaws. Perhaps this is why the Brighton board have opted for someone like Potter: a man with similar views to the likes of Eddie Howe and Brendon Rodgers who concentrate on the attacking side of the game as a starting point. Nevertheless it represents a big gamble.Embed from Getty Images
Clearly with this appointment the Brighton board are looking to significantly change playing style whilst also stabilising their Premier League tenancy. This in itself is a reasonable aspiration to have. But they have to be careful when trying to install a significantly different style of football on a team that doesn’t appear to possess significant technical ability and that has only just narrowly survived the drop. Potter may decide that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that to deviate from their existing identity too much too quickly could lead to a world of trouble, and adapt his playing style slightly – at least in the short term.
it’s not just Potter’s ideology that could be an issue: here is a man who has only had 2 managerial jobs (one for a long time) and has never managed in Premier League. I’m not one of those narrow-minded individuals that feels that coaches who haven’t resided in the top flight before shouldn’t get a chance. Neither am I suggesting that they go out and appoint Sam Allardyce or Tony Pulis because of their experience. Nevertheless it is important, and Potter’s lack of experience in English football is also a big concern for me. With respect to the Swedish League, it’s hard to envisage that this experience is in any way suitable preparation for a Premier League job.
All of this is why in my view, this looks like a gamble gone wrong. I have to say that I’m really surprised that Brighton have opted for him; and that Swansea fans seem to be so upset to see him leave, especially with a nice bit of compensation they’ll be receiving. It looks to me as though he has a very good agent! For Brighton and Potter’s sake, I hope I am proved incorrect and a good young English manager can make headway in the Premier League.