Swansea City manager Graham Potter gave another refreshing and insightful interview live on TalkSport radio this morning where he spoke about what attracted him to the job, the challenge of the Championship, how the club admitted their recruitment mistakes and how they’ll take each game as it comes this season.
The 43-year-old made a bold and risky decision to leave the UK and take a managerial job in Sweden as Ostersund, but he could never have imagined where that would have taken him seven years later. Europa League qualification and beating Arsenal at the Emirates having guided them from the very bottom to the top of the Swedish football system. His achievements in Sweden had gone unnoticed until he brought his team over to Arsenal in February 2018.
Potter made another bold and risky decision this Summer to leave his secure job where he’s adored and settled to take over at the Liberty Stadium and a Swansea City side whose Premier League status was inevitably lost after a long run of mistakes from board level – to say the least.
So why did Potter decide to take the risk and leave his job in Sweden?
“We know the Championship is very competitive, it’s a hugely challenging competition but that was the appeal of the job. The club had an identity, they lost it over a number of years, so the challenge now is to re-build that.”
“You can talk about identity and philosophy as much as you want , you still have the big competitive and you try to win in a really, really tough League.
One (of many) problems over the last few years has been our player recruitment and the fact that it hasn’t been led exclusively by football-minded people – managers, coaches and coaches as a single recruitment team working together as one. Instead, chairman Huw Jenkins has taken the lead role and subsequently the ability, flair and skill we once had in the squad leaked out.
Potter was asked if he was allowed to bring in the type of players he wants, and he also revealed in his interview that the club admitted to these mistakes, where he said the recruitment and playing staff “weren’t aligned”:
“Yes that’s on-going.
We signed two yesterday and we’ve been working really, really hard to get the right players in. The recruitment and the playing staff hasn’t necessarily been aligned over the last couple of years so a few mistakes have been made there which the club has admitted to so we need to try and bring the right players in and ones that (want to(?)) play for Swansea City.”
Graham Potter has had to quickly get to work in his new job in South Wales. He had around 2 weeks, maybe less, before the players returned to training and the friendly matches – plus a Summer Tour quickly followed. His team failed to record a single victory during their tour of Germany and Austria, with their maiden win of the Summer coming at Yeovil, and whilst results matter for nothing in pre-season, the performances haven’t been exactly inspiration to watching fans via the online live streams.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, it’s been a short pre-season. We arrive obviously from Sweden and you’re trying to settle in to the club, getting to know the players, there’s been a lot of movement in players out, a few players in, so we’re in the early stages of trying to put a club together that the supporters are proud of.
They’ve had 2 or 3 years of trying to fight and stay in the Premier League and that’s a huge, huge challenge and now we need to re-build again to get ourselves back – fighting and competing, and again to make people proud of the football team.”
So, what are the plans for this season? An immediate return to the Premier League? Some clubs may want to target that but you get the feeling that things are pretty grounded at Swansea. Potter at least is, who admits they’re taking things game by game, and in fairness, he admits that they’re going through a major transition phase.
“No it’s not and you only have to look historically to see that it’s not so straightforward but we’re going through a transition, a re-structure so for us it’s not about worrying about what’s going to happen in May, it’s about trying to focus on the next match which is Sheffield United away.
That’s a difficult game and we’ll just concentrate on that – game to game and see where we can go.”
And lastly, Potter expects Mawson to leave and he aims to replace him and improve the squad from “window to window”:
“Yes, I think that’s the case [going to Fulham]. Obviously we’ve been aware of that for a while, he’s an asset of ours and we wish him well if and when he leaves but our job is to replace and to try to improve as you move from window to window so that’s what we’re trying to do.”