Is the Premier League mid-table in need of some Potter magic?
With British managers in steady decline as the modern era of football rolls on, an unremarkable ex-footballer is having a remarkable start to his managerial career. That man is Graham Potter. While the pool of managers currently floating around the English top-flight is nothing short of world-class, the mid-table and bottom half of the Premier League is crying out for a fresh face to come and revolutionise a club in limbo.
If you didn’t pay attention to the early knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League, Swedish side Östersund FK was knocked out by Arsenal FC (despite beating the Gunners in a thrilling 2-1 at the Emirates) after a 3-0 home defeat in the round of 32 of the competition. It was Potter who guided the club to this standout maiden campaign in Europe. What is equally as impressive is the path taken by the former Stoke and Southampton player to reach this glittering point in his fledgeling coaching career.
Potter boasts a less-than-traditional path to management taken by retired players. In 2005, he graduated from the Open University with a degree in Social Sciences. After working a variety of roles for the University of Hull, England Universities Squad and Leeds Metropolitan University, he managed to complete a master’s in leadership and emotional intelligence.
It was late in 2010 when Potter reaped the rewards of his studious approach to coaching as he signed for Östersund FK. It took the Englishman under five years to take his fourth-tier team to the Swedish top-flight or Allsvenskan. This was likely not the short-term ambition of the club upon his arrival as Potter’s debut at the top of Swedish football was indeed the clubs first entry in its history. Nonetheless, his meteoric rise didn’t stop there – winning his first major silverware only 18 months later with the Swedish Cup in April 2017. Further than just a relatively rapid route to a first career trophy, this success earnt Östersund a place in the secondary competition for Europe’s elite. To put this into perspective, in Potter’s first seven years as a coach he secured three promotions without further relegation, won a major domestic trophy and qualified for the Europa league. It is unusual the world of football sees such a swift rise to success in coaching, let alone with English coaches of late. Further successes saw Potter manage a team that recorded wins against Galatasaray, PAOK, Hertha Berlin and of course Arsenal to name but a few.
In more recent events, the British manager lost the first two games of the new Allsvenskan season but it is certainly too early to let any true doubt set in yet. Potter has proven his tactical nous and excellent man management skills beyond doubt and will more than likely be trusted to remain for the duration of his contract. The Solihull-born Brit is contracted to stay at the Swedish club until 2021, after which it would not be at all surprising to see a host of clubs come sniffing for the seemingly prodigious coach.
It is to clubs like Everton and Leicester whom Potter could thrive. They boast immense fan-bases and substantial resources but lack their Mourinho, Wenger or Ferguson. Perhaps this is simply the romantic approach, but it would seem fitting for the still-young coach to take on a mammoth project and grow a club as has been done before in recent history. He clearly is an attractive managerial prospect for any young player to look at and seems capable of truly carrying a squad forward to success.
Given his seemingly grounded approach to learning the ins-and-outs of the coaching game, you would expect Graham Potter to continue to build up a portfolio of experience and success before heading to the spotlight regions of the footballing world. With a respectable 1.71 points per game earned on a ludicrous journey to the top-flight, the future certainly looks bright for England’s very own coaching wizard.