Graham Potter England job talk baffles Brighton fans for these key reasons

Graham Potter for England? That was a story doing the rounds last week with the FA apparently keeping a watchful eye on the Brighton boss as a potential future Three Lions manager.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:32 pm
Graham Potter's name has recently cropped up in the England discussion

If the Wembley suits are aiming to be the best xG nation in the world, then Potter would be the perfect fit, writes Scott McCarthy of www.wearebrighton.comIf they want to win matches and trophies, then right now it is the strangest idea since the Wembley Lasagne.

Potter has some good traits. His Brighton team play excellent football and they create plenty of chances as their much-fabled xG is testament to. The theory goes that if you give Potter a clinical striker - if he managed England, he would have Harry Kane - and he could achieve something special.

That might well be the case. Should Brighton avoid relegation to the Championship and back Potter with the missing piece of the jigsaw in the summer, we will find out.

What signing a striker will not do is improve the one glaring weakness in Potter - his game management. Nearly two years at the helm of Brighton have provided enough examples of his inability to get his side over the line to make the FA think that they would be better off handing the national stadium over to the Ministry of Defence to cook the largest Italian dish ever made.

Saturday's defeat to Leicester City served as the perfect example. As Brighton trooped off at half time, they were 1-0 ahead and had been playing well.

Whatever was said by Potter and his coaching team during the interval was completely ineffective as the Albion took their foot off the pedal, allowing Leicester to turn things around and escape with all three points.

As the second half progressed, I would wager that 90 per cent of the watching audience could see Brighton needed changes to break Leicester's dominance. Potter had options on the bench; the control and possession retention of Davy Propper might have reasserted a foothold on proceedings. The pace of Percy Tau could have given Leicester something to think about on the counter.

Potter though waited and waited and waited. His is the only opinion that counts and by the time he decided to make a change, Leicester were level. If Brighton were to win the game, they would need to find another goal... and so off went Alexis Mac Allister, a player who could create something, and on came Steve Alzate.

Potter's next change was to reward Neal Maupay for a good 80 minutes by hauling him for Danny Welbeck. Surely you leave two strikers on for the final 10?

Once Leicester went 2-1 ahead, Alireza Jahanbakhsh entered proceedings in the most baffling change of the lot. Leandro Trossard meanwhile completed the full 90 despite looking like a lost dog for most of the evening.

Weird substitutions have become a hallmark of Potter's reign. Remember when Alzate marked Jack Grealish out of the game against Aston Villa at the Amex last season?

With 20 minutes or so remaining, Potter decided to move Aaron Mooy up front, push Alzate into midfield and bring Martin Montoya on at right back. Within minutes, Grealish took advantage of the game of musical chairs to score an equaliser as it finished 1-1.

Away at Bournemouth with Brighton chasing the game a couple of weeks later, Potter introduced Solly March and Trossard to start swinging over crosses for the final third of the match. The recipients of this aerial bombardment? Maupay and Aaron Connolly, two players hardly known for their height, whilst Glenn Murray watched on from the bench.

So bizarre was Potter's decision making that night you almost forget he also gave Dale Stephens a stint at right back.

Weird substitutions are not the only part of Potter’s repertoire which raise questions over game management. Brighton have dropped 17 points from winning positions this season. If Potter and his players knew how to defend a lead, they would be level on points with Liverpool in eighth rather than Fulham in 17th.

17 goals have been conceded in the final 10 minutes of the first and second half. The Albion have a real problem in concentrating for the full 90 minutes, seeming to switch off before the game is done.

You simply cannot do that at Premier League level. For it to happen once or twice you could put down to misfortune. Five or six times then something is wrong. But 17? Again, it comes down to game management.

Fans who do not watch Brighton week in, week out, may see the possession stats and the xG and conclude that Potter is the next great thing in English football. Perhaps that is the trap that the FA have fallen into.

Aside from those two areas in which Potter does excel, he still has much to learn about being a manager in the top division of English football.

What Potter does have is time on his side. He is only in his third season of management in England and although Brighton’s league position and points total currently suggests that Potter has taken the club backwards from last year’s encouraging debut campaign, again there is much more to it than that. The football has been better, results have not.

To imagine Potter taking over from Gareth Southgate anytime soon when he has not worked out how to hold a lead, struggles to draw enough concentration from his players for a full 90 minutes and makes weird and wonderful substitutions is far-fetched.

That is not to say that Potter will not manage England one day, but he has much to learn first. For the sake of Brighton remaining a Premier League club, let us hope he starts soon.