Graham Potter: Brighton boss 'always a Jack' as he relishes Swansea City reunion

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Graham Potter's Brighton have made a superb start to the season, winning four of their first five Premier League games
Graham Potter's Brighton have made a superb start to the season, winning four of their first five Premier League games
EFL Cup: Brighton & Hove Albion v Swansea City
Venue: Amex Stadium, Brighton Date: Wednesday, 22 September Kick-off: 19:30 BST
Coverage: Live commentary BBC Radio Wales 93.9 FM in the Swansea Area & DAB SW Wales. Live text updates and report on the BBC Sport website and app.

Graham Potter said farewell to Swansea City much sooner than planned.

But ahead of a first reunion in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, the Brighton and Hove Albion boss says his season at the Championship club left a mark that will last.

"There's a saying isn't there, 'Once a Jack, always a Jack', and there's definitely a feeling of that for me," Potter says.

Born in Solihull and shaped as a manager in Sweden, Potter landed his first job on these shores at Swansea - who are known as the Jacks - following their relegation from the Premier League in 2018.

The challenge of rebuilding in the second tier proved considerable, with Potter forced to turn to youth as Swansea slashed costs and numerous senior players moved on.

Readjustment to life outside the top flight also saw staff made redundant, while Swansea's long-time chairman, Huw Jenkins, departed during the 2018-19 campaign.

"It was a really turbulent year," adds Potter, "but a fantastic one as well."

Swansea turned to Potter having been impressed by the work he had done during seven years at Ostersunds.

Inconsistency was an issue early on in Potter's reign but by the final stages of the season, his team were delivering results while playing stylish football.

They finished in 10th, nine points outside the play-off places, but the signs were so promising that Brighton came calling that summer.

After mulling over the decision for a while, Potter left for the Premier League, apologising to Swansea's fans as he went.

Ahead of their Carabao Cup meeting, Brighton are fourth in the top flight after a spectacular start to the new season and Swansea are 21st in the Championship, suggesting Potter was right to swap south Wales for Sussex.

"I suppose that's the thing with life - you have just got to make your decisions," Potter tells BBC Sport Wales.

"Who knows whether I was right or wrong because part of it [was that] we still felt we could get Swansea City promoted to the Premier League with our playing style.

"The challenge here [at Brighton] was to come and change the playing style. Then as we all know, if you are not getting results, it's harder to convince people you are on the right path.

"I don't have any regrets. I have come to a fantastic club with great ownership and leadership behind me which gives me stability to make decisions and support.

"I am just very grateful to Swansea City and to Brighton because they are two fantastic clubs and I have had the opportunity to work for both."

Potter was popular at Swansea because, after the club lost their way at the tail-end of their seven-year spell in the Premier League, he brought back the sort of eye-catching, possession-based football that had got them into the top tier in the first place.

Not only that, but Potter's team was packed with bright young talents who have thrived since he gave them a chance.

"[It was about] how to keep the club going and at the same time competitive and putting a team on the pitch that people like," Potter says.

"I think we made some progress with that. I look at some of the young players who got opportunities - Matt Grimes is a fantastic guy and was brilliant for us, Oli McBurnie, Dan James, Joe Rodon, Connor Roberts.

"I still speak to a few of them now. We have fond memories of our time together - it was brilliant.

"It's just one of those things that some opportunities come up and you have to make a difficult decision. I have got nothing negative to say about that club."

Daniel James was one of a number of young players who flourished at Swansea under Graham Potter
Daniel James was one of a number of young players who flourished at Swansea under Graham Potter

Potter signed a three-year deal when he took over at Swansea but the lure of Brighton, and the Premier League, meant he stayed only 11 months.

Had Swansea been in a healthier financial position, they may just have been able to hold onto their bright young boss when the Seagulls came calling.

Instead he is flourishing at Brighton, while Swansea are rebuilding once more under Russell Martin, another young coach who is determined to win games with style.

Martin, who hails from Brighton, says Potter's success at his hometown club "gives every young British manager hope that you can do things in a certain way".

"He's a fantastic manager and the way they've started the season is brilliant," Martin added. "That is the beauty of time and patience."

The respect is mutual, with Potter describing Martin as a "fantastic appointment" by his former club who will thrive in time.

"A lot of coaches talk about identity and values and clarity, but when they come in they just want to win," Potter says.

"I think with Russell, what you get is both.

"At the start of a process it never looks like perfect. I look back at my time here, my time at Swansea and at Ostersunds. Sometimes it doesn't look very good at the start.

"But unfortunately there are no shortcuts. You have got to go through some pain, you have got to get through some moments where you need people to be together and support you.

"I am pretty sure the people at Swansea will give Russell that support. I can see him doing really well."

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