Graham Potter: Brighton are realists but can still achieve something amazing
The Seagulls have come a long way since selling their Goldstone Ground to pay off debts.
Graham Potter feels Brighton must remain pragmatic in their Premier League journey, but believes they can still achieve some quite amazing things.
The Seagulls have come a long way since selling their Goldstone Ground to pay off debts and making the best of more than a decade at the Withdean Stadium, where some of the stands at the athletics venue were assembled from scaffolding and players changed in portable cabins.
Brighton, promoted to the Premier League in 2017, travel to relegation battlers Watford on Saturday looking to consolidate their place in the top half of the table.
The resignation of technical director Dan Ashworth, who has been linked with a job at Newcastle, may have left some questioning how far the south-coast club can continue to progress.
However, Potter – appointed in May 2019 shortly after Ashworth’s arrival from the Football Association – sees no reason to be anything other than positive for the challenges ahead at the Amex Stadium.
“It’s hard to say that you can think the sky is the limit. We have to be realistic, we have to be pragmatic and also be ambitious, so it’s a tough one,” the Brighton boss said.
“What you have got to do is to go step by step and it isn’t always obvious.
“When we started our journey here in the season before we came, the team finished with 36 points and performance wise was probably a third or fourth bottom team.
“Now we have taken steps and are a little bit higher than we were, but it hasn’t always been an obvious journey up.
“Along the way you get your bottom kicked and you have to get up off the floor, face all this criticism and you have to keep going. Different headlines happen, but you have to maintain progress.
“If you can do that and things become aligned and you can have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve as a football club, then it is quite amazing what you can achieve.
“So I would never say never, but at the same time I do respect the financial game that we are playing in.”
Having held their own in the top flight since promotion, Brighton are often viewed as the model Premier League club.
Potter, though, warned against any sense of complacency surrounding their hard-earned status among England’s elite.
“You have got to maintain the good things you do, keep open-minded in your thinking, keep challenging your position,” he said.
“For example, Swansea at one point was seen as a model Premier League club and then all of a sudden, relegation happened and it doesn’t look so good.
“Again it’s about how you position your club – being strong with your ideas, aligned in the recourses that you have, being realistic, communicating with the key people, but at the same time having ambition because otherwise what is the point?
“We want to dream, we want to come to the football club to believe that we can win. That is really important, I think, for supporters.”
Watford, promoted from the Sky Bet Championship, continue to struggle for results and are now under their third manager of the campaign, with Roy Hodgson in the dugout.
Potter, though, is not anticipating an easy ride at Vicarage Road.
“As you would expect from Roy’s teams, they are going to be really hard to play against,” the Brighton boss said.
“They will be hard to create chances against, are compact, aggressive on the counter attack with some dangerous players.
“We have played against Roy’s teams before and I don’t think we have won, so we are certainly not underestimating the obstacle ahead.
“We can’t underestimate them. We have to plan as well as we can and are looking forward to it.”
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