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Graham Potter to have input in Chelsea’s search for ‘world class’ sporting director

The former Brighton boss was confirmed as Thomas Tuchel’s replacement following the German’s sacking on Wednesday

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Thursday 08 September 2022 22:30 BST
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Graham Potter's Brighton revolution

Graham Potter will have influence in Chelsea’s appointment of a new sporting director, with the club hierarchy aiming to have the role filled before the World Cup so they can work on the January window.

The 47-year-old’s collaborative view was one of a few reasons he impressed in his discussions, with the new owners seeking to make a statement with their first appointment by not just going for a big name who is a “recycle candidate” around the top clubs.

The Chelsea leadership first became aware of Potter as a potential future boss as early as June, as they sought advice from various authorities within the game. Co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali were particularly struck by Potter’s willingness to take risks by going to Sweden so early in his career, as well as his education and ability to communicate ideas.

The hierarchy had a 15-minute talk with the team after the decision to sack Thomas Tuchel, telling them they acknowledged it was a “tough day” but it was now “time to turn the page” as the club “believes in them very much”.

The primary objective now is to secure a “world-class sporting director” by November, with the club speaking to a select group of candidates. The timescale would appear to rule out Michael Edwards, since he does not want to make any decision until the new year. The process will be similar to that towards a head coach, with Potter heavily consulted.

The idea is to build a holistic culture and long-term approach akin to what they have done with the LA Dodgers, where Dave Roberts has been in place since becoming the owners’ first coaching appointment in 2016. That is one reason Potter has been given a five-year contract, as he spoke in his interview of his willingness to work in a project that brings playing talent, technical quality and analytics together.

While there was obviously a willingness to work with Tuchel indefinitely on taking over, the owners immediately began making provisional and long-term plans. Potter’s was a name that repeatedly came up, and club officials realised why when they sat down with him.

That meeting happened quickly due to the fact the club had done due diligence as well as Brighton’s willingness to let a good club servant pursue his ambition. The owners had by that point already been besieged by calls from agents and even some big-name managers, with Mauricio Pochettino and Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim two of those that did come under consideration.

In early surveys of football, however, the new hierarchy had been struck by how many coaches are on “rotating musical chairs” at the top clubs. Chelsea now want to get away from that and build a different culture, looking to the next talents. A number of qualities stood out with Potter.

Potter enjoyed a fine spell at Brighton (PA)

There was first of all the fact he already knows the Premier League, and has repeatedly beaten some of those top clubs with a progressive modern approach. His willingness to go to Ostersunds at a young age especially impressed, all the more so since he took them into Europe, before similar overachievement with both Swansea City and Brighton.

Boehly is especially intent on that kind of mindset, as well as the ability to clearly communicate ideas. Potter explained to club officials the plans he had for the team, and how they could work in different systems. As much as anything, they admired his ability to work with new ideas and other people, while making them better. Chelsea are now intent on building a stable structure around that, in contrast to the constant upheaval the club has gone through in the past.

This was a message that was stressed to senior members of the playing squad after an initial 15-minute meeting following Tuchel’s dismissal.

“We’re here because we have your back,” the players were told. Ultimately, Potter is seen as a perfect “cultural fit” for a new club.

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