Graham Potter, 46, began to be known in England precisely because of his work In the small Swedish group, Ostersund. The team that moved up the Swedish leagues and came up with it until the clash against Arsenal in the Europa League, became world famous thanks to thinking outside the box. The team played clearly non-Swedish football, based on ball possession, creative players and high pressure but its most important decision was to “enter the world of culture”.
Potter and the management decided that each year the players would take on a cultural task that in any other club would have been perceived as “strange”. In 2017, Lassa Landin, Ostersund’s general manager, explained to Calcalist what the move meant: “We are very far from everyone and without a lot of money so we wanted to approach football from a slightly different angle. We wanted the players to experience something different. So we brought The players and the managerial and professional team for meetings with musicians and writers – to explain a bit about the creative processes they are experiencing … so we will make our players and our team better people. Maybe we will also use these skills on the field … A dance show, book writing, art exhibition, etc. Some of the actors did not understand what we wanted – but did it in the end. And we enjoyed it. We dared to do something else, something we did not think we could do. We grew up as human beings – and that’s the most important. “He helped us on the field. We would not have done it any other way.”
Potter was at the heart of this cultural change, which aimed to solidify the players, make them better people, better team members and finally also better footballers who work better together. Potter wanted to bring a similar approach to Brighton, which he began coaching in the summer of 2019 after a successful season at Swansea – which he came from Sweden.
“Create motivation for individuals within a group”
Potter is considered a brilliant tactical mind who manages to get his players to play exciting football but that is not the unique thing he brings to football. A Brighton football blogger has proven that Potter uses Pep Guardiola’s arrays – but Potter is the first to say that is not what brought Brighton to the top of the Premier League this season. “Football is not numbers and tactics,” Potter told The Coaches’ Voice. “To get your message across to people you need to be self-aware, you need empathy, you need to motivate them, show them responsibility, build relationships. These are things you need in coaching and leadership. As a head coach you need to know a lot about football but also know a lot. About people. It can be the difference. How your team’s team works together, how they communicate, how they understand each other – these are bigger things in football than professional sets and decisions. It’s not just a matter of training exercises, it’s related to how the team works. Together, how to create motivation in relation to individuals within the group, how they understand their role and the role of others and work together. “
Potter explained that his coaching certificate was important for his understanding of football but he attaches no less importance to his bachelor’s degree in social sciences and his final thesis on emotional intelligence in management. Potter uses a number of psychologists and welfare workers to prepare training and lesson plans for training in Brighton. He has frequent conversations with his players about non-football matters and places the player’s well-being above anything else.
Shane Duffy, a Brighton stopper, spoke about the atmosphere created in the team thanks to Potter to the club’s website. “Someone will make a mistake, someone will score a winning goal, it does not matter. It’s all we are. It’s on all of us. No one blames anyone else. No one comes in if he makes a mistake. “Good people who are well connected to each other and it can be seen on and off the pitch. Everyone is going in the same direction.”
Potter’s methods are unique and clever and are already arousing interest among the giants of English football. It is known that Potter and Chiki Bagirstein, the sporting director of Manchester City, are in a good relationship. Pep Guardiola calls him “the best English coach”. Jürgen Klopp is also very fond of Potter and his football. Potter is also being talked about as having the potential to be the next England national team coach. Its progress graph is clear. Brighton is currently in fourth place. Behind Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Potter, it should be noted, is an employee of a smart football club owned by Tony Bloom – who made his fortune from poker games and smart sports betting. Bloom built a modern and smart system in Brighton. Activity in the player market is profitable and the trend is clear: Brighton are on their way to becoming a regular team in the Premier League. Probably in the top 10 of the Premier League.
However, despite all the good work, the ceiling for teams such as Brighton has been lowered – objectively. Newcastle will take its place in the top seven; Potter – as mentioned – may find himself in a new place; Brighton’s outstanding players will also leave – perhaps for Newcastle. The fact is that Brighton can do everything right, increase revenue by hundreds of percent, conduct itself excellently professionally, socially and business and yet – because of the current structure of world football, because of existing regulation – not really compete for a place at the top of English football. It is also true of Leicester City that not even winning a championship has put it in the top club, which is in the hands of the traditional greats (with the most fans and high natural revenues), or rich thanks to countries or billionaires who have acquired them.
The method is simply unfair
Middle-class groups such as Brighton may feel that the system – with no staff size restrictions or wage restrictions such as a wage ceiling – is simply unfair.
In general, it is the same feeling that many young people in the UK go around with. According to a survey by the British right-wing economic affairs organization (IEA), almost 80% of young people blame the “capitalist system” for the housing crisis, 75% believe that the climate emergency is a “problem created by capitalism” and 72% believe in the nationalization of Certain assets. 67% want to live under a “more socialist” system.
On the other side of the Atlantic, too, the situation of capitalism in the eyes of the younger generation is not brilliant. In 2016 a Harvard study found that more than 50% of young people oppose capitalism while in 2018 a Gallup poll showed that the number of young Americans the number of young Americans looking positively at capitalism dropped from 68% in 2010 to 45% towards the end of the previous decade. And really, how can they be blamed when 745 billionaires hold $ 5 trillion and 50% of middle-class and lower-income American households hold $ 3 trillion (according to the Federal Reserve). How can you sell them that capitalism is fair when 10% of Americans own 89% of all US stock?
Globalization and the free market that capitalism promotes simply do not help young people, many of whom feel stuck in an unfair system and a large majority of them are sure not to be in a better position than their parents.
Brighton’s frustration – and that of many young people in the Western world – stems from the fact that they did exactly what the system told them to do. They do it well. And yet the ceiling is stiffer and lower than their parents had. The economic climate does not allow for fair competition. The regulation gives a clear advantage to those who have the money to change the regulation in their favor. Indeed – something in football, even in the most egalitarian major league, is faltering. And this is very bad news for those who are in favor of healthy football and a free market.