Will Graham Potter Succeed at Chelsea?

Following on from the shock decision to sack Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have moved quickly to secure his successor as they have appointed Graham Potter as their new manager. The Englishman joins the Blues from Brighton on a five year contract.

Potter appears to be a smart appointment as he is highly rated for the remarkable work that he has done turning Brighton into a team that are capable of finishing in the top half of the Premier League with many believing that he is he best English manager in the top flight.

Few people, if anyone, can deny that the achievements in his career to date mean he deserves a shot at a top six club.

The question on everyone’s lips is, can be replicate the success he has had at Brighton under the weight of expectation at Chelsea?

What can Chelsea Fans Expect from Graham Potter?

Graham Potter is a manager who has proved to be popular and successful at the clubs he has managed. When he was in Sweden he took Ostersunds FK all the way up to the top division and last season he led Brighton to 9th place, their highest ever finish in the Premier League.

He is a manager who, if given time and backing, can turn Chelsea into a force to be reckoned with.

The style that Potter will look to implement is not massively dissimilar to Tuchel’s in that he is manager who prefers to operate with a three at the back formation with wing-backs bombing on forward. The likes of Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella, formerly of Brighton, could really thrive in this system.

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Kalidou Koulibaly may also be a beneficiary as Graham Potter likes to see his centre backs play progressively with the ball and step into midfield to play forward passes. This is something the Senegalese powerhouse did regularly at Napoli.

Towards the end of last season the three at the back formation took the form of a 3-4-2-1 system with two double-pivots operating in the midfield supporting both the back three and the two more attack minded midfielders in front of them. Energy in midfield is key as seen by Enock Mwepu and Moises Caicedo at Brighton, the midfielders are expected to be active in all phases of play. This type of midfield player may be one Chelsea currently lack and could feasibly be an area that the Blues will look to strengthen in January.

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At times the wing-backs in Potter’s system will be aggressive and will be seen operating near enough in the forward line. They are given license to get forward and start counter-attacks as opposed to playing in a flat back five.

Despite this, Graham Potter will not necessarily line up with a 3-4-2-1 formation. Throughout his managerial career he has shown a willingness to be tactically flexible and he won’t be afraid to change his system and use a four at the back formation.

In any case, his core principles will remain the same. Under his leadership Chelsea will defend as a unit, have a strong sense of positioning, play out from the back and be a counter-attacking machine.

Away from the pitch, Potter will have an active say in the club’s transfer business moving forward making sure that the players who are signed by the club align with his project.

Emotional Intelligence

One of the most important aspects of Graham Potter’s managerial style is the importance the former Brighton boss places on emotional intelligence, a subject in which he possesses a masters degree.

“I’d had a bit of trial and error, but this was a way to just theorise some leadership concepts: self-awareness, empathy, responsibility, motivation, building relationships, are all things you need when you’re coaching.

“As much as you need to know about football, you need to know about people as well, that can be the difference.”

Graham Potter: Coaches’ Voice

It is these attributes that allow Potter to create trusting environments within his squads and ensures that players feel comfortable and trust in the process.

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“His emotional intelligence is by far the best I’ve ever seen in terms of his reaction and interaction with players.”

Steve Sidwell: talkSPORT

Potter and his players clearly develop an inherent level of understanding, something that you could argue has been lacking at Chelsea over the years. There were rumours prior to his sacking that Thomas Tuchel had fractured relationships with some members of the Chelsea squad, this would not be the case under Potter’s management.

If Graham Potter can bring this trusting environment to West London, it could help provide the catalyst for silverware during his tenure.

Will he be Successful?

Graham Potter certainly has the capability to be successful at Chelsea, but he will need time to get his ideas across. At both Ostersunds FK and Brighton he had a stable environment and was given time to build what would ultimately become prosperous teams.

Given the ruthlessness that Todd Boehly showed in sacking Thomas Tuchel, it is unlikely that he is willing to write this season off as one of transition. Will Graham Potter be given the time he needs to impose his intricate style in the midst of a season where he has to compete in multiple competitions? At Brighton there were periods of poor form which may not be acceptable at Chelsea. For example, would Potter get away with the 11-game winless streak that the Seagulls endured last season if that were to happen in West London?

This move is a gamble for both Graham Potter and Chelsea. Both parties need to have significant trust in each other in order to reap the potential long-term rewards.

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