Ask your average football supporter in England if they know or have heard of Graham Potter and the chances are that they wouldn’t have a clue who he is.
Indeed the the former Birmingham City trainee, who’s playing career highlight probably came whilst at Southampton, when taking part in a 6-2 victory over Manchester United in late 1996, had a rather unremarkable playing career thereafter, that saw him bouncing up and down the country turning out for an array of Football League clubs- before calling time on his playing days at Macclesfield Town in 2005.
Fast forward just 11 years and Graham Potter is one of the more famous managers currently plying his trade in domestic Swedish football. Indeed, ask your average football supporter in Sweden if they have heard of Graham Potter and the chances are that their team have lost to him on more than one occasion.
Potter is something of a revelation in Swedish football, something of a Billy Bean of the Allsvenskan league and the astonishing rise of Östersunds FK, under his guidance over the last few seasons, should not go unnoticed. His strong worth ethic, tactile transfer policy and constant work to bring the club closer to the community, all the while pushing his players outside of their comfort zones, is working wonders.
Achieving 3 promotions in just five years, the club from a town not much bigger than Ramsgate, are close to completing their first ever season in the countries top division. Whats more, whilst many expected Östersunds to fight admirably against relegation, no one actually envisioned a scenario where the club from a small northern town, perfectly nicknamed ‘Winter City’ (where annual average temperatures often fail to reach above 4°C) would somehow retain their top division status.
With just 7 league games left of the season (Sweden, like most of Scandinavia plays it’s football season over summer with an extended winter pre-season due to unforgiving and severe winter conditions), Östersunds, currently in 13th position, would only require three more points to guarantee their safety- indeed somewhat of a miracle is practically assured.
If opposition were naive to think that Graham Potter’s side would sit back and desperately defend any points they could take from the clubs inaugural top flight season, they were wrong. Over the course of the season, Östersunds took full points off the likes of Gothenburg, Helsingborg and Kalmar, they played good football, united a whole community and put Östersunds on the Swedish footballing map.
Whilst Potter has naturally received interest from his services from elsewhere in Sweden, elsewhere in Europe and even back home in his native England (rumour has it Swansea had strong interest early in the year), it’s clear he still feels his work at Östersunds is not yet complete.
Graham Potter is one of a select few of English managers managing abroad (and in light of recent Spanish league appointments, part of an even smaller group experiencing any relative success!), and despite his sometimes less than conventional methods, Östersunds success speaks for it’s self and you can be sure that we will be hearing plenty more about Graham Potter in time to come.
Remember the name.