Interviews

Graham Potter claims win at Arsenal with Ostersund 'not in top three of most important games for me'

Graham Potter Arsenal Ostersund

Former Ostersund boss Graham Potter has told FourFourTwo that winning at Arsenal in 2017/18 doesn’t make his top three most important games as a manager.

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The Midlander worked miracles with the Swedish minnows, guiding them from the fourth tier to the top flight as well, as tasting Swedish Cup success and reaching the Europa League knockout stages.

It was in that 2017/18 Europa League run that Ostersund faced the Gunners in the last 32, losing 3-0 at home before threatening to overturn the deficit by taking a 2-0 lead at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal eventually prevailed 4-2 on aggregate and the visitors left with heads held high. However, Potter prefers to reflect on the results that earned his side a shot at Arsene Wenger’s men, having beaten Turkish giants Galatasaray and current Greek champions PAOK just to reach the group stage.

Speaking exclusively in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops on Tuesday (November 19), the former Stoke and Southampton defender says: “The great thing is that everyone in the UK talks about the Arsenal match, but it’s not in the top three of the most important games for me – that’s how ridiculous it is.

“We beat Galatasaray over two legs. Galatasaray? The enormity of that club, the size of that club? To beat PAOK over two legs, losing the first match 3-1 but then winning 2-0 at home, was just amazing.

“Ultimately we lost to Arsenal, so it doesn’t have any feeling. Those games against Galatasaray and PAOK, plus Hertha Berlin at home when we won 1-0, and drawing at home to Athletic Bilbao – they mean more to me. You don’t want to be that gallant, sad loser. Along the way, there were some big games. People talk about Arsenal, but there were seven years of progression to get to that point.”

After steadying the ship at relegated Swansea last season – reviving the Welsh side’s passing style and giving Manchester City a genuine scare in the FA Cup – Brighton came calling for Potter, and he has already started working his magic on a team that narrowly avoided the drop in 2018/19.

But the modest manager is quick to pay tribute to the work done by predecessor Chris Hughton in the Seagulls’ dugout, which provided the 44-year-old a sound platform to build from this term.

“There was a solid, good foundation here,” he says. “Chris did a brilliant job winning promotion and keeping them in the Premier League, so there was a nucleus of good players and good people.

“Sometimes there’s a decision to change, and then the new person has to say, ‘How can we improve on what’s already here?’ Not necessarily better or worse, just how can we take steps forward? All of the guys have been open to that and want to take on the new challenge, which has been a real joy.”

You can read the full interview with Graham Potter in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. In a managers special, Rafa Benitez gives us the lowdown on Liverpool, Mike Ashley and Real Madrid, and World Cup winner Luis Felipe Scolari reveals the games that changed his life. We also catch up with former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who shares his 10-point plan to ensure success in the dugout, and hear how ex-Rangers and Leeds defender David Robertson ended up in a war zone leading Real Kashmir. Elsewhere, we remember the darkest hours that helped Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Brian Clough and Carlo Ancelotti forge incredible careers, find out why Diego Simeone became one of the decade's most decorated managers, and hail the maddest gaffers of all time.