43-year-old manager Graham Potter has a remarkable story.
The former footballer ended his playing days with League Two Macclesfield in 2005, but five years later he found himself in the Swedish Fourth Division managing Ostersunds Fotbollsklubb, more simply known as Ostersunds.
What was to occur after his appointment is one of the greatest fairytales football has seen. He took his side all the way from the bottom reaches of Sweden to the Allsvenskan. Along the way, he won two league titles. It has the hallmark of a Football Manager save.
But that is history. Potter now finds himself back in England with Swansea. Given the resources, he’s done a fantastic job. His work there and indeed in Swansea has seen him attract the interest of West Brom, according to The Sun on Sunday (05/05: page 59) – via HITC.
In an interview with the FA earlier this season, Potter revealed the main values he bases his management off. All of them are perfectly suited to help him thrive at West Brom, should he rejoin the club he used to play for.
Here’s what he had to say and how his five values can help.
“It’s important not to try and hide anything from anybody.”
Potter reveals to English football’s governing body.
Immediately you get a sense of the type of character Albion would be getting. In recent times, there hasn’t been the greatest of transparency at the Hawthorns.
This has never been more evident than in the club’s search for a new manager. Darren Moore’s sacking was a baffling decision and there was a clear lack of communication with fans as to what the next step was.
On the face of it, the Baggies never really had a plan for when Moore left the club but, by appointing Potter, things would certainly become clearer to the supporters.
As he says, he isn’t one to hide anything, and at a club where things have become toxic in the past, this could be an invaluable attribute West Brom can benefit from.
“I like developing, I like seeing people improve.”
This is one of the vital aspects to focus on when assessing what he can bring to the Hawthorns. West Brom’s youth academy has been in the spotlight for a while, mainly for the wrong reasons with players like Izzy Brown leaving easily and more recently with Rekeem Harper’s spell possibly coming to an end.
However, the former Ostersunds boss is someone who can help lay the foundations for a far better future.
You only have to look at the work he’s done with Dan James and Joe Rodon this season to understand the pivotal effect he can have on young careers.
His influence in Sweden is also a fine measure of that. Where West Brom have struggled to bridge the gap between senior and academy level, he’d the perfect man to help solve that issue.
No less than 12 Swansea players left the club during Potter’s first summer in charge. His resolution was to bring through a number of academy players. West Brom could certainly learn a thing or two in this regard.
“There’s distrust, disappointment, frustration, anger, blame; there are all these negative things and really the only way you can start to get your head around that and change that is by being honest.”
Those feelings will ring true to many Albion fans, especially frustration which has been lingering around the Hawthorns like a bad smell.
A yoyo period has seen the Baggies bounce between the Premier League and Championship and it’s come as a major disappointment. Not a single manager has been able to sustain West Brom, but Potter, with his honesty and transparency, could be the man to finally do so.
Disappointment is something that will also be felt by the players. Yet, by appointing a manager who is known for keeping his feet firmly on the ground, it can drastically improve attitudes. Without a positive approach, he wouldn’t have achieved numerous promotions in Sweden. West Brom must look to that as an example.
“When you’re in a leadership role, people need to know that win, lose, or draw, there has to be a consistency in how you act and behave.”
When was the last time West Brom had a truly reliable figure at the helm? The board at the Hawthorns have seemingly gone through managers like they’re going out of fashion but Potter is someone who can lead a long term project.
The club have achieved a play-off place this season but there is still a feeling of negativity, particularly after the Derby result. In truth, there doesn’t need to be, but it could ultimately prove to be their downfall this term.
Looking at how Potter has turned Swansea’s negativity around, it’s a key value that could completely change the attitude of not only the playing staff at West Brom but supporters and those holding positions of importance too.
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The fact he spent eight years with one club demonstrates why West Brom would be perfectly set up for the future.
“What we need to do is try to create an environment where the players feel empowered.”
With a constant change of managers, is it any surprise that West Brom fail to achieve anything? The environment hasn’t been good enough but Potter, who created a remarkable legacy with Ostersunds, can generate a culture and philosophy that’s rarely been seen.
West Brom have played safe and gone for the short term option too many times. The former Birmingham player would, therefore, represent a change in thinking.
He’s an individual who has long term visions and by appointing him he can create a culture capable of helping the Baggies stay in the Premier League.
After all, if Ostersunds can reach the top-tier, then anything can be possible at West Brom.