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Graham Potter is a supporter of the beautiful game with both Chelsea and the FA impressed with him

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Nine miles from Stamford Bridge, in a less affluent part of west London, news of Graham Potter’s expected arrival in Chelsea was read with great interest.

Gareth Southgate’s job as England manager remains one of the safest in the industry. But those responsible for succession planning at the FA have already identified Potter as a prime candidate to replace the current boss whenever that time may be.

It’s a good idea, of course: Potter is undoubtedly one of the best – if not the very best – young English managers. His achievements in Brighton, while staying true to a clear philosophy, have garnered admirers far and wide. There was little surprise at the FA headquarters in Wembley on Wednesday, as details emerged of Chelsea’s efforts to appoint Potter to one of the leading management positions in world football.

If the 47-year-old can be successful at Chelsea, the job in England should be a cinch.

Graham Potter has also been identified as a long-term replacement for Gareth Southgate

That’s all in the future and the FA will continue to keep a close eye on how Potter is doing. However, the here and now for Potter is the prospect of taming Chelsea’s madhouse. Leaving the stability of the Amex for the unpredictability of Stamford Bridge is not a decision he is taking lightly.

At first glance, Potter and Chelsea don’t seem like a natural match. What is clear, however, is why Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital gave the Brighton boss a smile.

He will provide an unwavering commitment to an attractive style of play. Whatever the consequences, Potter demands that his players stick to his vision. Even in the tightest spots, he expects his players to look for a pass. Row Z is not in Potter’s script. Trust your own abilities, trust your teammates, trust the process.

Potter's work in Brighton, while adhering to a strict philosophy, has received much acclaim

Potter’s work in Brighton, while adhering to a strict philosophy, has received much acclaim

There have been instances where Brighton’s commitment to Potter’s vision has cost them goals, but that’s a danger he’s willing to accept.

Those who have worked closely with him say that the coach’s most valuable asset is his messages to the players. He simplifies his communication, his instructions are clear and concise.

Likewise, his tactical planning is said to be chillingly accurate. Nothing is off-the-cuff, everything is methodical.

“There is never a wasted pass, everything is on purpose,” said a well-placed source. “He watches the game two passes before everyone else.”

Although his family has settled in Brighton, Potter wants to make it in the Champions League

Although his family has settled in Brighton, Potter wants to make it in the Champions League

It’s fair to say that Potter enjoyed the way Brighton is structured. The alignment between recruitment and the playing philosophy has provided him with the optimal platform to form a team in his image.

There are no direct guarantees that he will receive the same terms at Chelsea. As with any job change, there will be an adjustment period – perhaps the biggest of all is how he interacts with some of the world’s most prominent footballers and their egos.

At Brighton, Potter is the most important person – at least in terms of football – at the club. The players have adopted that ethos. At Chelsea there are players who think they are more important than the manager. How he approaches that situation can make or break his rule.

 

Former PSG and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is another favorite for the track

Former PSG and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is another favorite for the track

Potter will support himself. In November 2020, he dropped striker Neal Maupay for a clash against Tottenham over concerns over the Frenchman’s attitude and an alleged argument with a colleague on the club’s training ground. In March of this year, Potter knocked out star midfielder Yves Bissouma for a game against Newcastle. Sources close to that decision told Sportsmail that the coach had sought advice from a core group of older players who believed it would benefit the team if Bissouma were left out.

Potter was a journeyman who played briefly for Southampton in the Premier League

Potter was a journeyman who played briefly for Southampton in the Premier League

It’s likely Potter will assemble a similar leadership group at Chelsea’s Cobham HQ when he takes over the reins. History teaches us that he must be careful who he leans on.

But Brighton’s players will tell you he can’t be fooled – Chelsea’s superstars will probably find out soon enough.

Born in Solihull, Potter was a journeyman who started with Birmingham and briefly played in the Premier League with Southampton. He switched to coaching and worked in Sweden with Ostersund, where he was promoted three times in five years. Fiercely ambitious, Potter’s calm appearance contrasts sharply with his overwhelming desire to compete at the top of the game.

He is based in Brighton. Also important is his family, who took a while to return to life in the UK after seven years with Ostersund before joining Swansea in 2018. But Potter wants to make it in the Champions League.

He was a little hurt by Manchester United’s lack of interest following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last year.

Tottenham have long been admirers of Potter, but the prospect of teaming up with chairman Daniel Levy isn’t necessarily a match made in heaven. Jurgen Klopp has only recently signed a new contract with Liverpool, while Manchester City want Pep Guardiola to extend his stay.

That leaves Chelsea – well, at least Boehly hopes so.

POTTER’S BRIGHTON RECORD

Games played: 134

Won: 43

Signed: 43

Lost: 48

Goals Scored: 161

Goals against: 172

Points: 172

PPG: 1.28

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