There was a premature end to the Potter reign at Swansea City this week as the Seagulls swooped in to poach our highly rated manager.
Despite being offered a lucrative new contract and at least some assurances (for what they are worth) on playing resources for next season, Potter found it impossible to resist the lure of the Premier League and departed for Brighton less than a year after arriving in South Wales.
Whilst there is understandable disappointment and anger throbbing through the fan base, it is worth remembering that Potter’s tenure was a gamble that paid off for both sides.
From the club’s point of view Potter achieved a minor miracle; he came into a club traumatised by relegation from the Premier League and decimated by a savage fire sale that stripped the squad of most of its seasoned professionals and led what was left to a respectable 10th placed finish in the Championship.
I shudder to think what would have happened to us if Potter hadn’t stabilised the ship against all the odds, but images of Chris Coleman gurning on the sidelines as his Sunderland side suffered a second consecutive relegation plague many a waking hour for me.
Potter also helped to restore the enjoyment in watching the Swans again, attempting a return to the passing game we have become used to and have yearned for over the last few years. Oh it sure as Hell wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of flaws in our game that reflected not only our inexperienced threadbare squad but also Potter’s own mis-steps at a far higher level than he was used to, but it was refreshing and enjoyable all the same.
Plucked from Obscurity
It’s fair to say that we took “Pot Luck” on Potter, plucking him from the obscurity of the Norwegian league when other interested parties passed on by. Of course, an element of that will be the fact that he was relatively cheap, but we gave him an opportunity in a big British league when others got cold feet. And the gamble worked for us…we were able to stabilise and cut costs dramatically without the trauma of a second relegation battle.
Realistically that was the best we could hope for given the condition we are in and it means we are much better equipped to remain in the Championship and maybe offer a play off challenge next season or, should the worst happen, be better able to cope with relegation to League One. Let us hope fervently that it does not come to that but Potter has guided us through that pivotal first season after relegation and for that I am grateful to him.
But as I said earlier in this article, the gamble paid off for both sides and Graham Potter should be reflecting on how lucky he was to manage Swansea City at the time he did for that has given him the opportunity he has now accepted at Brighton.
No Lose Situation
When all is said and done Potter had a “free shot” in the Big Time with us. Having cut his teeth with tiny Ostersunds in the equivalent of the Conference, managing in the Championship was a huge step up for Potter. Taking on the job at Swansea City left him in a no lose situation: struggle and it would be blamed on the Board and the lack of resources, but do well under trying circumstances and his reputation would be enhanced, opening doors for him.
It’s disappointing that Potter has run through the first of those doors that opened for him, accepting the position at Brighton and leaving behind nothing but echoes of his “long term project” protestations. But really, can anyone blame him? His star is bright at the moment but not everyone thinks so with certain media pundits playing down his achievements; another season of selling his best players and having his hands tied risks his reputation and so he’s taken the opportunity to manage in the Premier League because he knows it may not come around again.
I hope he realises though that his days of no lose situations are over…Brighton will be on that Premier League 40 point treadmill and there won’t be the patience for sometimes erratic team line ups, capitulations away from home or a set piece soft centre that never looked like being shored up.
Still Learning His Trade
Potter wasn’t perfect last season, that’s for sure. He was learning his trade at a far higher level than he was used to and doing it with one hand tied behind his back. Mistakes were made but he got more right than wrong in turbulent circumstances. Is he ready for the jump to the Premier League? I’m not so sure. Another season with the Swans in the Championship may have been the better option in the long term but I guess he is confident in his own ability and he’ll think he can rise to the challenge.
Not that I particularly care how Potter gets on at Brighton mind…he’s gone…he’s left Swansea City…he’s just another footnote in history for me now.
I just hope and pray that whomever we gamble on next for the Liberty hot seat will work out as well as Potter did…
…but then goes on to fulfil his contract and his big promises of a long term project.