Every word from Graham Potter's first press conference as Brighton & Hove Albion head coach

Graham Potter spoke to the press for the first time as head coach of Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday (Monday) as he was unveiled as the new man in charge at the Amex on a four-year deal.

Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 5:46 pm
New Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter. Picture courtesy of Getty Images

Among the talking points were whether the 44-year-old could impose his brand of attacking football on Albion, the aims for the Seagulls next season, the possibility of raiding former club Swansea City in the summer and more.

Opening statement

"I'd like to start by thanking everybody at Swansea City - not least the owners, the chairman, the staff, the players, and especially the wonderful supporters there.

"It was a tough decision for me to leave Sweden and I had a fantastic year at Swansea. It's a great football club and I wish them all the success in the future.

"That said, I'm delighted to be here on my birthday. I've had a couple of days of speaking with Tony (Bloom - chairman) and Paul (Barber - chief executive) and Dan (Ashworth - Technical Director).

“I was really sold on their vision for the club and how they spoke about taking things forward and I'm delighted to be here.

“They've been on a wonderful journey for the last ten years since Tony's taken over, especially taking them into the third successive year in the Premier League.

“There's a lot of good work that has been done here and it's my responsibility to build on that good work.

“I'm looking forward, over the next few days, to meet everybody and then start the planning process for what's going to be an exciting season.”

You celebrate your birthday today. Is this a dream birthday move?

"I've had worse birthday presents that's for sure. It's a fantastic opportunity, as I'm sure you can imagine, for me.

"I'm very excited, very proud, and I'm aware of the responsibility that I have. I'm looking forward to getting further and further into the football club and working with the players once they've come back from their well-earned break.

"In the meantime, we need to get on with the planning and preparation that we need for a Premier League season."

When did Brighton first approach you?

"It was a couple of days ago now. I've had a couple of days of intense conversation and talks because the project we had at Swansea was very challenging but we were still in the middle of that.

"There's a lot of good people at this football club and I'm very excited to be here."

Do you feel you can transform the way Brighton play football?

"My job is to try to, like any coach, improve. What's gone before is a lot of good work - that's the first thing to say.

"Chris (Hughton, his predecessor) has done a fantastic job at this football club. I've not met him personally but everybody that I've spoken to has said he's a top, top human being.

"Great work has been done here and I'm very fortunate and I've got a big responsibility to improve that."

How is the management structure going to work?

"Billy Reid is my assistant. He's been my assistant from my time in Ostersunds and came with me to Swansea,

"Bjorn Hamberg, who's my first-team coach, helps with the details around the training and match planning.

"Kyle Macauley has been with me in terms of recruitment and will step into the existing structure that we have here.

"We're a team and we have different personalities, thankfully, and hopefully as a group we can cover a few areas.

"I'm looking forward to working with the existing people that are here. There are a lot of good people here at this football club and we're all really excited."

Are there people in Swansea who feel let down? What would your message be to the Swansea fans? Are you going back to take any of their star players?

"My message to the Swansea City fans is just to say thank you because the support that they gave me was incredible. I'll always remember that for the rest of my life.

"It wasn't easy to leave Sweden after seven-and-a-half years and they supported me incredibly.

"We had some tough challenges. The relegation from the Premier League brings some real tough times.

"But I can only thank them because the support was incredible for me and the team. That's all I can say."

Your style of play is quite attacking. Is that what you're hoping to bring here? And how much of the current squad would need to change?

"We try to play football in a positive way. That's how I've always worked.

"I think you have to look at the quality of the players that you have and the attributes that they have and you want to try and play to their strengths.

"It's not about me. It's about helping the players improve and help the players enjoy their football because then there's a chance that it can transfer into positivity and good performances.

"It's not easy. I think in any team you have to be defensively organised and that's what we'll try to do. Bring that combination of a good defensive structure and positive, good football."

What's the immediate aim for Brighton next season?

"I think every football club will be the same - try to improve.

"That's the challenge. We're in the most competitive league in the world with fantastic teams but always in football, and in life, you want to try and do a little bit better tomorrow than you did today.

"That's how I've always focussed on my career so far. I'm proud of the journey that I've been on and hopefully I've got another 14 years ahead of me.

"I'll still need to improve and hopefully so will everyone at the club. That's one of the things I liked about the message from the board here. That desire and need to get better."

How difficult was it, not just in footballing terms but on a personal level, to make the move from Wales?

"I've got a young family so I had to consider that. We went through a big move this time last year from Sweden, a place that I've lived for seven-and-a-half years, to resettle back into the UK.

"Our family had just dealt with that and now there's another move. But that's part of the beauty of the game and life - you never know what's going to happen.

"I spoke to the board over the last couple of days and was really excited by this challenge.

"Thankfully my family is very supportive, and provided I was OK with the job they were willing to come."

How easy or difficult will it be to impose your brand of football in the Premier League?

"That's going to be the challenge. You've got to convince the players, and you've got to convince the environment that you can succeed. That's ultimately what it is.

"My job is to quickly understand the strengths of the players to try and help them improve, but there's no doubt the Premier League is so competitive and tough.

"Anybody can beat you on the day. That's the reality of the league, but at the same time what's great about football is that you can win.

"We need to try and build up the team that understands that and has that humility and respect for the game."

Last summer the club signed a lot of players. Will there not be as much transfer activity this summer?

“I’m not expecting massive amounts. I think there’s some good players here and a lot of good work has already been done.

“Any football club will look to try and use the window to try and improve but my focus has always been on trying to help the players that are already here to improve and to get better.

“It’s a clean slate. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody, getting to understand what they’re about, what qualities they bring to the group on and off the pitch, but clearly in every window, you want to try and help the team and the group get better”.

Do you feel fortunate to get the chance in the Premier League?

“You always need a bit of fortune in life. I think I’ve also worked very hard to get to this point.

"My unglittering football career came to an end at the age of 30, so I had to embark on a coaching career and learn how to be a better coach every day.

"The path that I’ve taken to get to this point is 14 years of quite a lot of hard work, sacrifice, learning, mistakes and developments, but I’m very proud to be here now and I’ll do my very best to help this football club reach its goals."

With the season at it's end, are you planning on working right the way through pre-season?

"I think my wife would lock the door on me if I said that I was only going to have a couple of days with the family.

"For my own self I need a couple of days to reflect and to have a bit of sunshine and, in the meantime, think and plan about how we can carry on developing the club in the off-season.

"We've had a big season and we've got a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of days."

"There won't be too much holiday time but there will be enough to be refreshed and come back hitting to ground running so to speak."

What do you think will be your biggest challenge at Brighton?

"The Premier League is the big challenge, the competition. That’s what it is.

"You can talk all you want about philosophy and identity, all these words, but ultimately, it’s a competition.

“We have to be competitive; we have to try to go into every game understanding what we need to do to win, and we are playing against some of the best teams in the world.

"So the biggest challenge is the competition, but then it’s to keep it nice and simple, to try and improve every day and be honest enough and take responsibility for that.”

Is there more pressure on you due to the narrative that you need to keep Brighton up while being exciting to watch?

“Nothing is easy in football. We’re here to take on this challenge and we’re excited by it.

"It’s not easy, I don’t expect it to be, I expect it to be really tough, but that’s why you take these challenges on.

"I was really impressed by what these guys were talking about. There will be bumps in the road along the way but it’s about sticking together and achieving something that we’re all really proud of.”

You've taken the road less travelled in management, but did you ever have the Premier League in mind?

"I didn't have any real plan in terms of the level. I wanted to just improve.

"I started off on my journey realising I wasn't very good at coaching but I wanted to get better.

"That's continued and I've taken specific steps, albeit quite unconventionally, but now I'm here and I'll do my best to understand the responsibility and understand the challenge and do everything I can to deliver success on the pitch."

You had a holistic philosophy focussed on developing players as people as well as footballer at Ostersunds. Will you bring a bit of that to Brighton?

"I don't think I can be extreme as I was at Ostersunds. I think the players will be happy to hear that on their sunbeds.

"But the idea or concept that it's important to understand the individual and the person as well as the footballer I think is a helpful concept to have regardless of the competition.

"Football is quite easy when you're doing well and you're winning games. It's when things aren't so good and when things do get a bit tough that the character and personality and the attitude and the personal qualities really stand up.

"Understanding them I think is really important."

How do you think you've developed and improved thanks to your year at Swansea?

"I have enormously, on and off the pitch. We had great challenges during a turbulent time, especially around the transfer window.

"I had the responsibility of looking after a football club that maybe had lost a bit of belief and wanted an identity that they wanted to get back.

"With that comes challenges like putting together a team that supporters can recognise and be proud of and that process is demanding.

"But I've had incredible support from the players, the staff, the supporters, everybody connected with Swansea, so it's allowed me to get through the year.

"I've really enjoyed my time back in the UK. I'm just fortunate now to have this opportunity and I thank Swansea City for giving me the last year."