Sorry, Brighton, but Graham Potter is good enough to become Manchester United’s next manager

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

It’s a natural consequence of the Midlands accent and the modest way Potter casually withdraws from the compliments of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp – it inevitably sounds like Lynne trivializing the homage of Roy Orbison and George Harrison.

Behind that beard, it is possible that there is a modest genius. Therefore, the VIP membership of the Potter fan club is growing. Guardiola has often sounded like its chairman and chief spokesman in his praise of the Brighton coach. After Saturday’s 2-2 draw, Klopp was once again forced to acknowledge how difficult it is to face a manager who shares his risk-and-reward principles.

Brighton’s board and supporters must have mixed feelings about such connections. Positive feedback is always welcome, but there will be caution about the requirement for Potter to hurry up and join a Champions League club, or one with more realistic top-4 aspirations than his current employers.

Fortunately for Brighton, some of the so-called ‘elite’ clubs are in such a mess, or have board members so deficient in foresight and wisdom that the attractive offers do not seem to be coming. If they were, Potter would be one of the frontrunners for the Manchester United job when Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s time inevitably runs out.

Potter was ranked as a 33-1 outsider when Solskjær was meant to hold on last week, cynics inevitably pointing to his inexperience in working with a club – and locker room egos – of United’s significant stature.

Still, the difference in quality, organization and overall purpose Liverpool faced against Brighton compared to Old Trafford a week earlier was so marked that it made United’s capitulation look even more embarrassing. Liverpool’s problem on Saturday was, unlike the previous weekend, that they played against a team that looked like it knew what it was doing and reaped the fruits of repeated training sessions.

Brighton pressed hard, constantly placed between Liverpool’s back four and midfield, generally confirming the suspicion that the Anfield universe is less balanced when Fabinho is missing, although it was barely noticed in Manchester six days earlier.

Potter’s team had more ball possession, more shots on goal 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 twice what Klopp’s team managed over the weekend.

As Klopp became more and more agitated at the sideline, likely wishing he still had Adam Lallana in his midfield, and Andy Robertson reacted angrily to Main Stand supporters who were intolerant of a misplaced pass, it was clear how expertly taught Brighton is when they came under Liverpool’s skin by taking them on their own game.

To anyone who misjudged this as an audition, it was as impressive as any visiting manager during Klopp’s reign: Potter reaffirmed his coaching credentials in the most frightening places.

In fact, if Klopp insists on leaving Anfield at the end of his contract in 2024, Potter on his current pitch would certainly be a leading candidate for a hassle-free transfer.


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