Chelsea can be seen as having thrown the dice by appointing Brighton manager Graham Potter as successor to sacked Thomas Tuchelbut the feeling may well be mutual.
Solihull-born Potter, 47, has built an outstanding reputation through his work at Brighton, following his successes at Ostersunds FK in Sweden and Swansea City, producing an attractive brand of football and a growing list of successes notables.
Potter, however, has yet to be tested in the kind of hothouse Chelsea will provide, a far cry from the stable working environment that allowed him to work so superbly at Brighton, gaining the freedom to create and build way that worked. so well on the south coast.
Brighton gave Potter time, patience and a willingness to consider any period of indifferent results as part of the process – leniency not given to the Chelsea manager.
Potter didn’t have to deal with the biggest egos and signings brought in at great expense before his arrival when he entered his previous clubs.
If Potter’s appointment is a gamble for Chelsea because he’ll be under pressure and scrutiny he’s never experienced before, then so will the latest inhabitant of the Premier League’s hottest seat. .
Good reputations can be built slowly but destroyed quickly, given Chelsea’s unique demands in previous years. All of this will have figured prominently in Potter’s thinking before taking the job, but the lure of battling for silverware at the forefront of the Premier League allied with competition in the Champions League has proven irresistible.
Potter’s appointment fits perfectly with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s preferred strategy, according to those who know how the American wants to operate.
Boehly showed shades of his predecessor Roman Abramovich’s ruthlessness by sacking Tuchel after his first 100 days in vetting and shortly after sanctioning the biggest expense expected in a transfer window by any British club, 255 £.3 million 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 seemed to find so difficult and who will develop the players he has.
This is where Potter fits the bill.
Potter’s calm and measured handling has demonstrated all of these qualities and can be seen in one of the players he inherits at Chelsea: former Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella, signed for £15million from Getafe then sold to a deal that could be worth £62m after just one season.
He has the kind of down-to-earth, self-deprecating approach that will serve him well in contextualizing the occasional craziness at Stamford Bridge, especially when he mocks his own name.
Potter once said, “It’s hard to be a sexy name when your name is Potter, especially if your first name is Graham. Then it gets even harder to be sexy. Add to that a long face and a red beard, all the rest of it, and I just have to stay coaching football and working with the players.”
The dry humor hides an inner steel that brought Potter to Chelsea and has already slated him as a potential successor to England manager Gareth Southgate.
Potter was unafraid to voice his annoyance to Brighton fans after he booed the team following a goalless draw at home to Leeds United in November 2021.
He said: “I’m a little puzzled by the reaction of the crowd. They’re entitled to their opinions but I don’t agree with them at all. We’re eighth in the Premier League, but I maybe I need a history lesson on this football club.”
Potter could have taken the easier option and remained silent, but he clearly felt he had to speak out against what he saw as an injustice to his players from their own Brighton backers.
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 as the current campaign began with a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford. It also contained an exceptional 5-2 win at home to Leicester City which put them in the top four ahead of Chelsea’s approach.
Potter’s previous job engenders confidence that he will succeed at Chelsea, albeit in an environment unfamiliar to his previous jobs. Tuchel’s relationship with some players has broken down, but Potter’s composed personality will help the healing process, as will the widespread and growing respect for what he achieved at the Amex Stadium.
The risk comes from the expectations of Tuchel and Chelsea’s permanent pressure cooker, where the demands of instant success could mean that even Boehly’s best intentions for management longevity will be tested.
Potter is happy to poke fun at his own lack of glamour, which resurfaced when faced with other names listed alongside him as chances were taken on Tuchel’s successor, such as Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio. Pochettino, but the way he raised Brighton and the style with which he did so should mean he gets a warm welcome at Stamford Bridge.
He has a tough task after a poor start to the Premier League season and Chelsea’s disappointing start to the Champions League campaign with the loss to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia which 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 deficit at the first leg.
He needs to take it to another level at Chelsea, but most competent judges think Potter is more than capable of coping with what he’s set out to do.
Chelsea clearly believe, having seen Potter work with Brighton, that he is a gamble worth taking and the smart, highly-rated manager feels the same way.