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rising star Why Brighton boss Graham Potter should be a front-runner for the Manchester United hot seat

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Graham Potter has more than proved his pedigree as a manager. Photo: PA

Graham Potter has more than proved his pedigree as a manager. Photo: PA

Graham Potter has more than proved his pedigree as a manager. Photo: PA

There is a touch of the Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne about Brighton’s Graham Potter.

It is a natural consequence of that Midlands accent upon receiving the highest praise, with Potter casually and modestly shrugging off the compliments of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and unavoidably sounding like Lynne downplaying the tributes of Roy Orbison and George Harrison.

Behind that beard, it is possible there is an unassuming genius. That is why VIP membership of the Potter fan club is growing.

Guardiola has often sounded like its chairman and head spokesman when effusive in his praise for the Brighton coach. After Saturday’s 2-2 draw, Klopp was compelled to acknowledge how tricky it is facing a manager who shares his risk-and-reward principles.

The Brighton board and supporters must have mixed feelings about such endorsements. Positive feedback is always welcome, but there will be wariness at the clamour for Potter to make haste and join a Champions League club, or one with more realistic top-four aspirations than his current employers.

Fortunately for Brighton, some of those so-called ‘elite’ clubs are either in such a mess, or their board members are so lacking in foresight and wisdom, that attractive offers do not seem to be forthcoming.

If they were, Potter would be one of the front-runners for the Manchester United job when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time inevitably runs out. Potter was ranked a 33-1 outsider when Solskjaer was thought to be clinging on last week, cynics inevitably pointing to his inexperience working with a club – and dressing-room egos – of United’s considerable stature.

Yet, the difference in the quality, organisation and general purpose Liverpool encountered against Brighton – compared to Old Trafford a week earlier – was so stark, it made United’s capitulation look even more embarrassing.

Liverpool’s problem on Saturday was, unlike the previous weekend, they were playing a team who looked like they knew what they were doing, reaping the rewards of repetitive training-ground drills.

Brighton pressed high, located space in between Liverpool’s back four and midfield, and generally confirmed the suspicion that the Anfield universe is less balanced whenever Fabinho is missing – even though that was barely noticed in Manchester six days previously.

Potter’s side had more possession, more shots on target and completed more passes against Liverpool at Anfield than United did at Old Trafford.

Most telling is how they completed four times as many successful tackles as Liverpool’s previous opponents – and double what Klopp’s side managed at the weekend. High-class coaching often seems an afterthought when considering the right candidate for the biggest jobs. Unless applicants already have some connection with an elite club in peril, they need to become a stellar name elsewhere before they are regarded as the right fit.

Witness some of the fans’ responses when Potter was linked with Premier League clubs last summer. There was hardly a clamour to make him an offer he could not refuse, even if he did appear committed to Brighton.

For now, Brighton are a great watch, and destined to radically improve their league position.

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They may not have a team capable of qualifying for the Champions League, but they have a Champions League pedigree manager.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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