Official: Chelsea back-up Graham Potter as new head coach

After a brief and focused pursuit, Chelsea have appointed Graham Potter as our new head coach, replacing Thomas Tuchel who was sacked yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Chelsea concluded talks in short order with Potter, selling him on the vision of a long-term project at the club, and getting him to agree terms for a five-year(!) deal. That’s the longest contract we’ve given a manager since a five-year deal for José Mourinho in 2005 (he made it two and change).

Potter’s contract with Brighton & Hove Albion had a variable release clause, reportedly around £16m, which Chelsea activated. At least three members of his backroom staff are expected to join alongside him, including long-time assistants Billy Reid and Björn Hamberg, and “recruitment specialist” Kyle Macaulay, and maybe a couple others, too (goalkeeping coach Ben Roberts and first-team coach Bruno also left the team with him), bringing Brighton’s total compensation to north of £20m. We’re certainly making a big bet here.

A journeyman footballer who spent a decade in the lower leagues, Potter went into coaching in his early 30s and made a name for himself during a remarkable 8-year spell in Sweden, taking Östersunds FK from the fourth tier to the first in five years, and reaching the Europa League knockout rounds a couple years later, in 2017-18, recording a 2-1 win at the Emirates against Arsenal, even.

He made the jump to England after that, guiding Swansea City to 10th in the Premier League in his single season there, before joining Brighton in 2019 in a £3m transfer. They finished 9th last season, their highest ever placement. He seems to have a knack for leaving teams at their zenith, having taken them as high as it’s possible. (Östersunds and Swansea have both been relegated since his departure.) Unlike most head coaches, he’s never been sacked. (You just wait, buddy!)

Potter’s expected to get to work quickly, and could be in the dugout for Saturday’s game away to Fulham already. We’ve got some early-season malaise to turn around, before thinking of anything too long-term.

Welcome, Graham Potter. Let’s win some things!

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