Graham Potter to Chelsea: Why the Blues wanted to bring the Brighton boss’ magic touch to Stamford Bridge | Soccer News

If Chelsea are serious about rebuilding the club from the ground up, a long haul, whoever is responsible, they have picked a man who ticks a lot of the right boxes in Brighton’s Graham Potter.

Six games into the new season, his now-defunct Seagulls side sit three points and two places above Chelsea in the table, despite being significantly inferior in resources to the Blues and every other team around them.

It’s not really that small sample, though. What Potter built in Brighton took much longer. The obvious product of his philosophy was their mark of passing football, but his work on the south coast went far beyond the tactical chart.

Now his success has proven enough for Chelsea owner Todd Boehly to decide the 47-year-old is better suited to lead his new club than a man who led them to the Champions League a while ago. only 15 months.

That decision to pull the trigger just 100 days after taking possession will raise eyebrows over the appointment of a man like Potter, who finished 15th and 16th in his first two seasons at Amex Stadium.

“If I were Graham Potter, I would find it very hard to believe that they are going to do things differently,” said sky sports Jamie Carragher as the Blues part ways with a sixth permanent manager in 10 years.

But if Boehly’s raison d’etre was, as he has privately stated, to appoint a coach whose long-term vision he can better align with, then the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, albeit still harsh, might turn out to be more sensible than it seemed at the time.

The American billionaire deserves the benefit of the doubt. One of his other sports ventures, the LA Dodgers baseball team, has had the same manager in place since 2015, and it’s not uncommon for new owners to want their own man at the helm.

“At the end of the day, if you can align a good recruiting process and a good identity with a good environment, you can gain conviction and momentum.”

It was Potter who said sky sports on how he sowed the seeds of his managerial career at Ostersunds, the Swedish minnows he took from the fourth tier to European football. But it also rings true to how Boehly wants to run one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Since crossing the door from the Amex in 2019, he has played a major role in transforming Brighton into one of the most cohesive units in the Premier League, while operating with a net spend of 30 million pounds of profit.

The Seagulls made a name for himself for his tactical flexibility and back-forward football passing, all the more impressive given the more pragmatic style favored by his predecessor Chris Hughton. This comes in comparison to Tuchel’s Chelsea who, even in their brightest moments, have always struggled to forge a clear identity.

Look at how far Leandro Trossard has come since joining Potter that same summer. Signed as a winger, he played as a number 10, a false nine, in central midfield and more recently at the back, and impressed in every role.

Would many other managers watch 6ft 6in centre-back Dan Burn in training and convert him to left-back? The list is long – Pascal Gross, Steven Alzate, Joel Veltman, Alexis Mac Allister. His team’s versatility was nearly unmatched in the entire division.

This requires players who can be molded, but must be a clear sign of a coach who both understands their players’ strengths and can improve on them.

Tuchel has made his own mark on that front, unleashing Antonio Rudiger’s potential as one of the Premier League’s strongest centre-backs, but more recently his excellent work at full-back Reece James has been overshadowed. by the unfortunate decision to move the best of Chelsea. cruiser to the right central defender.

“[Graham’s] his biggest strengths are how he plans the game and what he wants us to do,” said Mac Allister Sky Sports News this week.

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Speaking in January 2021, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was a “big fan” of Brighton head coach Graham Potter.

“Tactically he’s amazing, the coaching staff is really good, they always try to help us in every aspect. He’s really important to us and I’m really happy to work with him.”

Brighton’s bank account saves his credentials. Marc Cucurella, signed just last summer, was sold to his new club Chelsea last month for a profit of £40m. Yves Bissouma has moved to Spurs from the Champions League, while Moses Caicedo is believed to be a January target for Liverpool.

Without a doubt, Potter makes players better and Chelsea’s acquisition of Kyle Macauley, a recruitment analyst who followed him from Ostersunds to the Amex, could prove another bonus.

He is considered the brain behind Cucurella’s signing, as well as the club’s impressive purchases in South America, including Caicedo.

Tuchel’s frayed relationship with new Chelsea owners and his playing staff contributed to his downfall and helped put the writing on the wall inside Cobham as they toyed with the idea of ​​making a change, but Potter’s calm demeanor should serve him better at Stamford Bridge.

Even from his early days in Sweden he prioritized building his players and team as people as much as footballers, and in Ostersunds developed a ‘culture academy’ to challenge them in outside of their normal roles – from creating their own art exhibit to taking part in a performance of the ballet Swan Lake.

“It was about being open to new things, breaking down the barriers that sometimes exist in a team, all the hierarchies, and developing the players as people,” Potter said. sky sports. “You get to see people on a human level.”

Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell probably won’t learn to pirouette anytime soon, but Potter’s philosophy remains the same and has shown in his relationship with his players in his most recent jobs.

“He’s a player manager,” said former Swansea winger Nathan Dyer. Sky Sports News. “He’s a problem solver. Tactically, he’s amazing at making sure that when you step onto the pitch everyone knows what he’s doing. What he will bring to Chelsea is exactly that.

“He’s a very calm person, and if he wants you to do something on the pitch, he takes responsibility if it goes wrong. He’s never there to throw anyone under the bus.”

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Nathan Dyer looks back on his time under Graham Potter at Swansea, praising his former boss

The topic of motivation also presents its biggest question mark, as it does with every manager without an elite club on their CV. Potter has been tipped for a top job for some time, but with a management history consisting of Ostersunds, Swansea and Brighton, he has largely been untested working with world-class players and the demands they bring on and off the pitch.

He wouldn’t be the first talented manager to struggle to get the required buy-in from a team that can often be hard to impress. Chelsea’s long string of managerial appointments owes almost as much to dressing room sentiment as it does to the high demands of Roman Abramovich.

But there are promising signs in finding the respect he has built with the likes of Adam Lallana, freshly signed after winning the Premier League with Liverpool in 2020, and Manchester United and Arsenal veteran Danny Welbeck.

While some managers may find it difficult to adapt to the more possession-focused front foot game of top teams, Brighton have been doing so since they walked through the door – and on some of those key metrics they were already in full in the mix. with the six best rivals of his new team last season.

“Graham, in my experience with him, is a very deep thinker,” Lallana said earlier this year. “He and his team work 12-hour days, which is what you have to do if you want to be the best, you can’t overlook anything.

“There are so many different dynamics in the team that you have to look at. You have a squad of 25 players, each at different stages of their careers and lives with different issues, but Graham and his team do it. really. cover all the bases.”

Boehly’s hopes of Potter building a new ethos in Chelsea’s academy have only a limited early history, although Ben White’s rise to the top and Robert Sanchez’s performances alone are an argument. solid for his record.

Either way, the creme de la creme in West London will be on another level than what he was used to in Brighton, and his belief in process and joint thinking will stand him in good stead as he builds this unit through Cobham.

There are no certainties in football, let alone taking a risk on an untested manager at the top level of elite football. But if anyone is ready to step up and make their mark at a club like Chelsea, it’s Potter. Now he just has to hope that we give him time to do so.

Chelsea’s next fixtures

September 10: Fulham (A) – kick off 12:30 p.m.

September 14: Red Bull Salzburg (H) – kick off 8 p.m.

September 18: liverpool (H) – kick off 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 18, 4:00 p.m.

Kick off 4:30 p.m.

October 1st: crystal palace (A) – kick off 3 p.m.

October 5: AC Milan (H) – kick off 8 p.m.

Sky Sports

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