Pundit casts aside key doubt to reveal why Graham Potter ‘had to’ take Chelsea job, as manager’s explanation of Brighton exit comes to light

·6-min read
Graham Potter, August 2022 Credit: PA Images
Graham Potter, August 2022 Credit: PA Images

Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler has backed Graham Potter for taking the Chelsea job, claiming more managers should show the same eagerness to progress.

Potter recently vacated his role as Brighton head coach in order to replace Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. Without a doubt, it will be the biggest job of his managerial career. The English tactician will be hoping to make a success of it.

Potter got Brighton playing attractive and competitive football. Now, he will have to apply his ideas to a Chelsea squad full of more household names and big stars.

Some have wondered whether leaving Brighton for Chelsea will be the right decision for Graham Potter. After all, the club he has joined do not have a track record of keeping coaches for the long term.

But they have tied Potter down to a contract until 2027. What’s more, they have given him assurances that a failure to qualify for the Champions League will not in itself be enough to cause his own sacking.

Still, Potter may have had more stability at Brighton, where he was building a good reputation.

But according to Fowler, who has managerial experience himself with clubs in Thailand, Australia and India, Potter has made the right decision.

Fowler told the Daily Mirror: “Of course Graham Potter had to take the Chelsea job… damn right he did.

“But I get why people are saying he should be wary of joining a club where there are clearly attachment issues to managers, where there seems to be major dysfunction in the board and dressing rooms.

“Come on though. This is football. Don’t go to Chelsea because you may get sacked after two years? You’d never take any job as a manager if you thought like that.”

Indeed, Fowler thinks Potter is setting an example by wanting to test himself with a club of Champions League stature – and a dressing room full of egos.

He added: “Players are desperate to compete in the Champions League, why not managers? Chelsea is that chance for him, and undoubtedly he’ll have the belief in himself to buck the trend at Stamford Bridge.

“You can’t hide the fact that he’s walking into a troubled club at the minute. I don’t think the new owners have covered themselves in glory the way they got rid of Thomas Tuchel and you wonder if they don’t understand football.

“The dressing room looks a mess as well. Maybe that’s Tuchel’s fault, maybe not. There are a lot of big egos in there, and some of them seem to be butting up against each other.

“I didn’t like the body language of that free kick exchange between Reece James and Hakim Ziyech, which spoke volumes on the issues Potter will be inheriting.

“I’ve already heard questions about whether he’ll be able to handle those big egos, and win over players who seem to have the power at that club to get managers sacked.

“Yeah, maybe players of that level can accept a manager with the aura of a big name from his playing days more easily… initially. Yeah, maybe he doesn’t come with a track record that makes them immediately sit up and take notice.

“But again, in the end it’s never about the past in football employment. It’s always about what you can achieve in the future, and Potter will know that.”

Graham Potter bids Brighton farewell

Meanwhile, Potter’s own explanation of his Brighton departure has been published by the South Coast club.

Writing on Thursday, although publication was held until Sunday morning, Potter said via their club website that he has a lot to thank Brighton for, but ‘had to grasp a new opportunity’.

Potter said: “I bid farewell to a great club and one that will always mean so much to me and my family. For some I recognise that the change that comes so suddenly in football can be hard to accept. I may not be able to persuade you all to forgive my departure – but I would at least like to take the chance to say thank you.

“All good clubs need great owners and great fans. Brighton & Hove Albion have both. I will cherish the relationships I built in all aspects of the club. My players went above and beyond. My staff gave everything.

“At the heart of it were the Albion fans. On every matchday at the Amex, the connection with the team was strong. When we played away you came in your thousands to roar us on. I know what you have been through to see your club finally in a modern stadium and thriving in the Premier League. I felt it every time I stood on the touchline.”

He added: “I hope that you will understand that at this stage of my career, I felt I had to grasp a new opportunity.”

Continuing his message of thanks, Graham Potter wished whoever succeeds him well in the Amex Stadium dugout.

According to the former Swansea City boss, the newcomer will be joining a club with solid foundations.

He concluded: “I feel I am a better person and a better manager for the experiences I have had here.

“Not every team selection or decision has been perfect. But the club has created an environment that gives you the scope to make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. I have always tried to act with integrity and be a good person. These are values I hold dear, and I know that the Albion do too.

“What turned out to be my final match against Leicester City last Sunday was a good way to end. I did not know at the time that it would be the end, but looking back now we played so well. There was so much positivity around the club. The last few days have been an unexpected whirlwind. Leaving the training ground for the last time was a poignant moment.”

“To my successor, whoever that may be, I would say, congratulations. You’ll be working for a great club with a fantastic squad, supported by a great chairman and board. The squad are playing at a high level and will get better. Most of all, the supporters will get behind the team home and away.

“To everyone at Brighton & Hove Albion: thank you. It has been a pleasure and honour to serve the club over the last three years. I wish you every success going forward.”

The likes of Kjetil Knutsen and Roberto De Zerbi have been linked with the Brighton vacancy after Potter’s departure.

READ MORE: Todd Boehly contacts renowned PSG decision maker over prospect of filling critical Chelsea vacancy

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