EPL

Chelsea appoint Potter: An intriguing journey from Ostersunds to Stamford Bridge

By Sports Desk September 08, 2022

When Graham Potter landed his first managerial role in the fourth tier of Swedish football in January 2011, few would have expected him to be leading one of the Premier League's elite teams within little over a decade.

But after overseeing Brighton and Hove Albion's fine start to the Premier League season, Potter has stepped up to succeed Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.

It remains to be seen how Potter, a coach with high potential, fares with new owner Todd Boehly but his arrival in west London marks the culmination of one of the most intriguing coaching journeys in recent memory.

From Ostersunds to Chelsea, Potter's rise has been Football Manager-esque.

Here, Stats Perform delves into his coaching career to date and what it could mean for the Blues.

From humble beginnings: The stunning journey at Ostersunds

Having featured prominently for the likes of West Brom, York City and Macclesfield Town during a playing career spent entirely in England, Potter made the unconventional move to Scandinavia in 2011.

Potter, whose previous coaching experience took in roles at the University of Hull and Leeds Metropolitan University, was recommended to Ostersunds by Graeme Jones, then Roberto Martinez's assistant at Swansea.

They would not regret taking him on. Within seven years, Potter was masterminding Europa League wins against Galatasaray, Hertha Berlin, and most noticeably of all, Arsenal.

Having led the side to three promotions in five seasons, Potter oversaw a terrific Svenska Cupen triumph in 2017, earning the chance to face some of Europe's biggest names.

That 2-1 success at the Emirates in February 2018 put Potter on the map, despite Arsene Wenger's men triumphing 4-2 on aggregate at the end of their round-of-32 tie. 

Despite his limited resources, Potter became the first English manager to beat the Gunners in a European tie at the Emirates Stadium, while Ostersunds were the first Swedish team to win away at an English side since 1995, earning him a move to Wales. 

Making waves on the Welsh coast: Reinvigorating Swansea

Swansea City were considered one of the Premier League's best-run clubs for much of their seven-year spell among the top flight between 2011 and 2018.  

But the team inherited by Potter was not built for an immediate promotion challenge following their relegation that May. Having let several key men leave, their biggest outlay in Potter's first transfer window was the £3million signing of Manchester City youngster Bersant Celina.

Potter's men may have finished some nine points adrift of a Championship play-off spot, but a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals, where they suffered a controversial 3-2 defeat to City after going two goals up, put the tactician on the radar of Premier League clubs.  

Despite only enjoying one season in Wales, Potter was key to the early development of the likes of Dan James and Joe Rodon, both of whom went on to join top-six clubs. 

When a Premier League side were in the mood to change their style of play in 2019, Potter's sterling work in Wales put him high on their shortlist.

Seagulls soar to new heights: Potter in the Premier League

In the 2018-19 season, Chris Hughton's Brighton staved off relegation by just two points, scoring a mere 35 league goals across a dull campaign.

Potter's subsequent arrival at the club was not universally welcomed, with several pundits highlighting his lack of experience at the top level, but he quickly made them eat their words.

Although finishes of 15th and 16th in his first two campaigns may not have demonstrated obvious progress, Potter's ability to implement a progressive style was clear: having averaged 41 per cent possession in Hughton's final season, Brighton averaged 52 per cent the following year. 

But the 2021-22 campaign saw Potter conduct some of his finest work to date, masterminding a ninth-place finish while losing only 11 games. Only Liverpool (two), City (three) and Chelsea (six) were beaten on fewer occasions. 

In addition to the top three, only Tottenham and Wolves posted better defensive records than Brighton last term, and their high-press style was demonstrated by the fact only Liverpool and City won possession in the final third more often than the Seagulls.

On Sunday, Brighton's outstanding start to the new season went up a level, as they scored five goals in a top-flight match for the first time (in 364 outings) to blow Leicester City away.

But the Seagulls have now fallen victim to their own successes, with Potter unable to resist the advances of Chelsea.

London calling: Can Potter's methods work at Chelsea?

New owners often like to bring in their own coach upon taking charge of a club and, in that sense, Boehly's decision to dispense with Tuchel makes some sense – though doing so mere days after the end of a busy transfer window has attracted justifiable criticism.

Roman Abramovich's Chelsea tenure was characterised by success in the absence of an on-pitch identity, winning trophy after trophy despite a plethora of coaches, sackings and controversies.

If a more progressive, long-term approach is Boehly's aim, then Potter's past work suggests he could be the perfect man for the job.

Related items

  • Los Angeles Chargers hiring Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator Los Angeles Chargers hiring Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator

    Kellen Moore did not stay unemployed for long.

    Less than 24 hours after Moore and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to part ways, the 34-year-old reportedly agreed on Monday to join the Los Angeles Chargers to run their offence.

    The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Moore, who had served as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator since 2019, is expected to take over for the recently fired Joe Lombardi.

    Under Lombardi, the Chargers were ranked 13th in scoring offence (23.0 points per game) and ninth in total offence (359.3 yards per game) this season and finished 10-7 to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

    The team suffered a massive collapse in the playoffs, however, blowing a 20-point half-time lead while gaining just 84 second-half yards in suffering a 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round, leading to Lombardi's firing.

    Similarly, Moore's time with the Cowboys ended after Dallas struggled offensively in a playoff clunker, managing just 282 total yards and one touchdown in a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in their Divisional round game.

    That showing came a week after the Cowboys racked up 425 total yards in their 31-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round and after they finished the 2022 regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring (27.5 points per game) and 11th in total offense (354.9 yards per game).

    Since Moore took over Dallas' offence four years ago, the Cowboys led the NFL in total yards in 2019 and 2021 and also had the league's top-ranked scoring offense last season at 31.2 points per game.

    In Los Angeles, Moore will direct an offence led by one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Justin Herbert.

    The 24-year-old, who just completed his third pro season, finished second in the NFL in passing in 2022 with 4,739 yards to go with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

  • Benfica 'prepared' for Fernandez exit amid latest Chelsea claims Benfica 'prepared' for Fernandez exit amid latest Chelsea claims

    Roger Schmidt acknowledges Benfica may be helpless to stop World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez leaving the club as reports of Chelsea's interest persist.

    Argentina midfielder Fernandez has been linked with the Premier League club throughout the January transfer window after catching the eye at Qatar 2022.

    Benfica coach Schmidt was frustrated by Chelsea's attempts to sign Fernandez earlier in the window when it was claimed they did not intend to pay his £105million (€120m) release clause.

    Schmidt, who dropped Fernandez for one match, said the Blues were trying to "drive the player crazy" as it appeared he was keen to make the move.

    Yet it was suggested on Monday a bid had been lodged that would see Chelsea match the £105m clause, giving Benfica no option but to allow their prized asset to leave.

    The Portuguese giants are top of the Primeira Liga and through to a last-16 Champions League tie against Club Brugge, and Schmidt believes they are set for their next move if Fernandez departs ahead of Tuesday's transfer deadline.

    "I think we always have to prepare everything in the background, especially at the end of the transfer window, and especially when you are not in the driver's seat," Schmidt said on Monday.

    "So, we all know that we have a situation with Enzo that he has a clause in the contract. That means if the player wants and there's a club that pays this amount of money, you cannot stop that.

    "Of course, for this moment, you have to be prepared and you have to find solutions. But at the moment, he is our player, he's still there, so there is no deal.

    "We will see what happens in the next two days. Then I'm happy when the transfer window is closed and we can focus completely on our players in the squad and we can try to play a top season."

    Despite removing Fernandez from the team at the start of the month, Schmidt has no concerns around the player's mentality now.

    "Of course, he gets our full support," the coach added. "He's a great person and a great player, and I think I said everything about that topic.

    "I already said a few times that as long as the transfer window is open, you always have to expect that something can happen. It's the same with the Enzo topic.

    "So, we will see what happens in the next two days. But my mindset hasn't changed in the last weeks. I really appreciate after the discussions at the beginning of January that he was able to focus again on Benfica.

    "I think he played top games for Benfica, which shows what I said before – that his attitude towards Benfica is 100 per cent.

    "But we know also how the football business is. I think I'm always very honest, as honest as possible, to you here in the press conference. That's the situation. I cannot say anything more about this topic."

  • Aguero offers Man City Haaland warning, says only Messi can win titles alone Aguero offers Man City Haaland warning, says only Messi can win titles alone

    Erling Haaland needs support from his Manchester City team-mates to deliver the Premier League title, says Sergio Aguero, who believes only Lionel Messi can carry a side to major honours on his own.

    Haaland reached 25 goals for the Premier League season with a hat-trick as City thrashed Wolves 3-0 in their most recent outing in the competition.

    The Norwegian's fourth Premier League treble took him beyond the tally of 23 goals managed by last term's joint Golden Boot winners Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min with 18 games of the campaign remaining. 

    Despite Haaland's exploits, Pep Guardiola's side trail league leaders Arsenal by five points having played an additional game, and City great Aguero says the striker cannot do it alone.

    Asked whether Haaland can inspire City to a fifth league title in six seasons, Aguero told Stake.com: "We'll have to see that yet.

    "There's still plenty of the season to go. Haaland, who has been racking up numbers that will break historical records, will play a major part in it. 

    "In any case, except Leo, there's no one player who can win a league on their own. 

    "It's about the team, and City have got a very talented roster and exceptional staff. They've given plenty of evidence of their great stature, and you know they'll fight until the very end."

    While City have struggled to keep pace with Arsenal so far this season, five-time Premier League winner Aguero remains confident Guardiola's men can overturn the Gunners' lead.

    "I wouldn't say that Man City aren't clicking. The Premier League is the most competitive league there is," he continued. 

    "It's perfectly normal to see the top contenders get reinforcements and go back to their historical standards. 

    "City have won four out of the last five Premier Leagues. They're still in the fight, and that needs to be recognised. [They are] prowling from the second position, ready to strike. Anything can happen."

    City will travel to Arsenal for the duo's first league meeting of the season on February 15, after facing Tottenham and Aston Villa in their next two fixtures.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.