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Graham Potter’s courage in adversity rewarded as landmark game looms

Watford v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Vicarage Road
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Brighton boss Graham Potter admits it was a major battle to convince the doubters he was cut out for Premier League management as he prepares to take charge of his 100th top-flight game.

Potter was tasked with improving Albion’s style of play after being the surprise choice to replace the sacked Chris Hughton when he was recruited from Sky Bet Championship side Swansea in May 2019.

He has overcome substantial adversity at the Amex Stadium, including the deaths of both of his parents, in a difficult first season which was temporarily cut short by the coronavirus pandemic with the club on a 10-game winless run and in serious relegation danger.

The 46-year-old has gone on to gain plenty of plaudits for his team’s slick performances and has the in-form Seagulls flying high in ninth place ahead of Tuesday’s milestone match away to Manchester United.

“There’s a feeling or maybe a mentality that someone comes in and we expect everything to change very quickly,” said Potter, reflecting on his time in Sussex.

“And the idea that it’s a slow, progressive, sometimes up, sometimes down (process), it’s not very interesting, it’s not very appealing, it’s not the 15-minutes-of-fame solution.

“While that’s happening, sometimes it looks like you’ve not improved, sometimes you’re getting your backside kicked, and you’ve got to keep moving forward your ideas and keep convincing people that you’re on the right path – and I think that’s been the big challenge for us.”

Predecessor Hughton ended Brighton’s 34-year exile from the top flight by winning promotion in 2017 and twice beat the drop before his departure.

Referring to the initial comparisons, Potter continued: “I think what Chris did was amazing, a fantastic job, so you’re facing that; you understand the media game which is results-related.

“Off the pitch, both my parents passed away, which from a mental health perspective is incredibly challenging.

“And then we had Covid, which then resulted in lockdown, so when you zoom out of it all and I tell the story – and I’ve probably missed most of it out – no wonder it was the hardest year of my life.

“But at the same time, I’m very, very thankful for it.”

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