Graham Potter: From university to ballet, the interesting and unusual trip to Chelsea | Soccer News
Graham Potter is preparing to lead Chelsea in the Premier League for the first time – another notable step in his unusual journey to the top of the game.
The Blues boss – whose Chelsea side are absent at Crystal Palace for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday – has had a remarkable run, from his playing days coaching college teams, in passing through success in Sweden and then building his reputation on those shores with Swansea and Brighton.
sky sports took an in-depth look at his story in a special ‘Making a Manager’ series, talking to former teammates, managers and colleagues to find out more about what made Chelsea’s new manager the manager he is today .
You can watch the series below – but here are five facts you might not know about Potter…
Potter missed a month of football because his dog spilled his green tea on him
Potter’s playing career included a spell in the Premier League and took him to clubs such as Birmingham, Stoke, Southampton and West Brom. In total, he racked up 350 appearances – but it could have been a bit more.
While at his last club Macclesfield, the left-back/left-back – described as good on the ball and stylish by former team-mates – suffered an unlikely accident.
“He’s having a cup of his green tea, he’s on his couch,” former Macclesfield teammate Jon Parkin explained. “As he went to sit his dog ran past him and spilled the tea on the front of his leg and he missed three or four weeks because of it!”
When Potter presented a musical and a ballet performance with his players
During his time as head coach of Swedish coach Ostersunds, Potter led the small northern club to back-to-back promotions to the top tier, a cup win and a Europa League win over Arsenal in the first leg of their knockout game.
But as well as revolutionizing the team on the pitch, Potter has also taken his players into uncharted territory.
“The first thing we did was theatre,” said Ostersunds club secretary Lasse Lindin. “Then we wrote a book together, we did an art exhibition – it was very interesting, some of the players didn’t know what to think about it! Then we did a musical and the money we got received from the musical was used to help refugees.”
One of his players, Tom Pettersson, said: “It wasn’t always fun training for three hours on a Tuesday afternoon, but it helped. When we had our big performance at the end of the season, even though you suck at rapping, you were like ‘if I can do this in front of 1,000 or more people, I can do whatever I want on the pitch’.”
Potter also stuck to himself, singing a hymn in a local dialect and, a year later, performing in the club’s rendition of the Swan Lake Ballet!
Potter has a diploma and a master’s degree from his studies alongside his football career
Potter retired from football in 2005 – the same year he graduated from the Open University in Social Sciences. This was only the beginning of his links with the world of education.
He then coached at Leeds Met, acted as director of football development for the University of Hull and ended up signing four players for Ostersunds whom he used to coach for English universities.
While at Leeds, Potter took advantage of an opportunity for staff to access courses and earned a master’s degree in leadership and emotional intelligence.
“It was a leadership qualification and it sounded pretty interesting to me,” Potter said. “I had done my coaching qualifications. [Football management is] basically managing people and building an environment and understanding how the environment can help you shape behavior and how people act. It sounds pretty sensible, but it’s often not common practice, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Some of his most innovative tactics were learned in York City
Potter is hailed as an excellent tactical trainer, with innovative systems and ways of playing. But what is less well known is that he picked up some of his key ideas while playing for Third Division York City in the early 2000s.
“At York we were starting with a three-man defense, but depending on how the game was going we could adapt to go with a four-man defense,” said Terry Dolan, the club’s manager at the time.
“Whenever we wanted to change things, Graham always knew what to do and what we were asking for. I think he’s done that most of the time he’s been at Brighton – and I’m sure he will. probably the same at Chelsea.
“Watching him lead Brighton, I can see exactly what he tried to do over the years. He wasn’t just a player on the pitch, he did a lot of work off the pitch to improve. “
It took a few months for his methods to catch on at Brighton, but it paid off for the Seagulls. “We went through a period of transition as a style of play, which I found exciting,” said Dale Stephens. “I was 30 and never played the way Graham plays and I enjoyed that transition. He really is a modern manager.”
He coached at the Women’s World Cup
Potter’s varied career has also taken her into women’s football, working with the Ghana national team at the Women’s World Cup in China in 2007.
As technical director, Potter brought his methodical training practices to the team as they faced heavyweights Norway, Australia and Canada in the group stage. He was unable to inspire the team to a major upset – but his sessions had a lasting impact on the players he coached.
“During the training sessions in China, he was there on the training ground. At the time, nobody knew who he was, but we knew that they were different and had a different mindset for the game, the way the game should be approached,” said Mavis Danso. , a former Ghanaian international.
“The Ghana FA wanted to make sure the squad was well prepared and that there were good experienced people on the technical side to advise the coaches.
“He was really particular about how he wanted the defense to play, he wanted the outside backs to be more involved in the attack. He was working on the shape of the team where we needed to be when we had and didn’t have not the ball.
“We were doing these drills a lot in training, it was a lot of reps. But it was good because you remember what you have to do when you’re on the pitch. With his ideas, it was really about good ideas.”