The search for a new manager is finally over as Swansea City appoint Graham Potter having identified him weeks ago as the man capable of taking on the challenge of the Championship.
It’s been a frustrating wait to install the former Ostersunds boss after the deal was essentially done over a week ago. However Potter, his assistant Billy Reid, and scouting consultant Kyle Macauley have all now put pen to paper and can begin the job of transforming not only Swansea City’s fortunes but our style of play too.
Having been favourite for the job from the start, Potter beat off reported competition from Frank de Boer and Jaap Stam. The former had some support within the fan base given his reputation for passing football but there was universal objection to Stam and his sterile, safety first game that the Jack Army is desperate to see the back of.
Potter has signed a three year contract and takes over from Carlos Carvalhal after the Portuguese’s contract ended without renewal upon relegation from the Premier League.
It’s fair to say that Potter has a monumental challenge in front of him. Taking over a team that’s been relegated is hard enough but he’ll face the twin challenges of teaching his new side how to win games and play attacking football – something that seems to have been forgotten over the last three seasons.
Potter will need to do this against a backdrop of cost cutting and a significant turnover of players, all with the clock ticking faster than usual due to the World Cup playing havoc with the summer transfer window.
Many Swans fans have greeted Potter’s appointment positively, although there is a stream of scepticism given the level he’s operated at during his managerial career thus far. Here’s a little taster of reaction to the news on the ATFV twitter account…
It’s true that the Swedish League is probably on a par with, say, the Scottish lower divisions and it will no doubt be a massive step up in quality for Potter. That does represent a gamble but given what the man has achieved in circumstances that mirror our own club’s unlikely rise through the ranks I’d call it more a calculated risk.
And let’s be realistic here. Our relegation coupled with our financial restrictions (even with the parachute payments) would automatically lower the calibre of candidates we could attract. Personally I’d rather take the risk with an exciting, fresh appointment like Potter than chuck money at a Pardew type figure.
Shoestrings and Silverware
Potter’s success at Ostersunds should not be dismissed out of hand because of the standard of teams out there. It’s all relative. Potter has taken a bunch of part-timers from the bottom to the top. The man’s won silverware. He’s got his underdogs regularly dishing out bloody noses to the bigger opponents. He’s had to do it all on a shoestring budget….
Potter’s success with Ostersunds doesn’t guarantee that he’ll come in, tear up the Championship and take us immediately back to the Premier League. But neither does the lower standard he’s cut his teeth in automatically mean he’ll struggle and end up with the annual December P45!
What we all should want, first and foremost, is a return to a Swans side that fights to win instead of playing not to lose…a Swans side that can retain the ball but play with power and purpose…a Swans side that is feared by opponents instead of scared of its own shadow…
…yes, the cliched return to The Swansea Way.
And there are encouraging signs that Potter could be the man to achieve that aim, and if he does so then a promotion push might well become possible.
What are those encouraging signs? Well, anyone that has watched even a little of Ostersunds during their Europa League adventure will have been impressed with their cultured yet fearless football, even against far mightier opponents such as Arsenal.
More than that though, Potter has a deep insight into The Swansea Way we all want back having spent many an hour at Swans training sessions when Roberto and Graham Jones were in charge, as he explained on the official Swans site:
I remember coming to Swansea on my days off from university to watch training and games when Roberto (Martinez) and Graeme (Jones) were in charge. It was when they were starting to build that Swansea philosophy, which was fascinating.
The Swansea Way was also about creating an identity where people felt they could go into any game and win. That was the mind-set.
So, long-term it’s about building a sustainable club that people are proud of and that can function at the highest level for as long as possible.
Yes these are just words, and like me you’ve probably had your fill of them from managers talking big and then acting small over the last few years. But it is interesting to note that Potter already has a deep appreciation of the sort of style we’d like to see returned to the Liberty Stadium. And the mind-set that he refers to is something that he has clearly demonstrated over a prolonged period with his former club. Successfully demonstrated too.
No Quick Fix
Of course, as promising as Potter’s appointment is it is no quick fix. For one thing the man will need Board and fans alike to display some patience. We need to invest in this man, allow him to grow into the role. If things start badly then there needs to be a recognition of the wider problems plaguing the club. We must persevere with Potter. Well, providing he doesn’t go all Bob Bradley on us!
As well as patience what Potter really needs is a lack of interference from above. Huw Jenkins is clearly hoping the Cloak of Invisibility he’s currently wearing will keep him in post and there seems little sign of any “technical director” coming in, certainly in time to affect the summer transfer dealings. Therefore Huw has to keep his hands off and let the new manager take the lead on signings.
Potter’s trusted scout Macauley being part of the package is encouraging. Hopefully that means we finally have a manager strong enough to identify his own targets and not get led by the nose by our extravagantly paid de facto Director of Football!
The task in front of Potter is a sizeable and complex one. Now that he’s finally in place it will be fascinating to watch him set about his work. If Potter can bring a similar style of football, work ethic and sense of togetherness that he fostered and nurtured in Ostersunds then next season could be an enjoyable and successful one.
Swansea City appoint Graham Potter and the optimism levels amongst the fans finally goes up – it makes a pleasant change after a desperate couple of seasons.
Let’s hope the man himself can deliver on that optimism.
What do you think of Potter’s appointment? Are you happy that the Swans have snapped up their number one target? Or do you think this is too much of a gamble considering our current fortunes? Why not sound off in the comments section below?