Following time spent praising the new Chelsea manager, Pep Guardiola pronounced that Graham Potter will succeed in the Premier League.
Potter had a modest playing career, and despite early success at Swedish club Ostersunds, he initially failed to persuade British clubs that he could make the grade here. His first Premier League game as Chelsea’s manager is against Crystal Palace the following weekend.
Gary Rowett was chosen over him when he applied for the managerial position at Stoke City, his previous team.
When Swansea City finally made the switch, Guardiola was one of the early adopters of Potter’s methodical and intelligent coaching. Jurgen Klopp, another iconic manager, followed quickly after.
The Manchester City manager was astounded by Potter’s Swans’ performance against his squad in the 2019 FA Cup quarterfinal, which saw the Premier League team advance 3-2 despite going down 2-0.
After the game, Guardiola tracked down Potter and spoke with him for 45 minutes in the manager’s office at The Liberty Stadium.
The inexperienced manager was initially surprised that the most renowned coach in the world was quizzing him on tactics and philosophy rather than the other way around.
Every time Potter’s new team, Brighton, faced City, the same pattern was followed.
Guardiola was eager to hear Potter’s opinions despite the fact that Guardiola had prevailed in five of their six meetings because he thought England had finally discovered a manager who could hold his own against the best in the world.
He didn’t hold back when complimenting Potter in public:
'I am a big fan of Graham Potter. From the first time at Swansea, it was a joy to analyse his teams but also a concern when you play them,' said Guardiola.
'His players have the courage to play, they all know what to do. The first thing I would tell my players is: 'We have to be at a high level against them.'
'They have runners high and wide, it does not matter if they are wing-backs, full-backs or wingers.
And after that, they create spaces for people in the middle. They press aggressive, all the things I would like as a spectator. I identify with his teams.'
The one-on-one sessions with the Spanish legend gave Potter the confidence he needed to compete against the best. Guardiola had to consider it whether he believed it was worthwhile to learn more about him.