An away win over Manchester United was an impressive way for Brighton to start the 2022/23 Premier League season, but the result and performance at Old Trafford won’t have as a surprise to anyone who watched the Seagulls last season. Indeed, Graham Potter’s side have made a habit of upsetting the odds against the ‘Big Six.’
Champions Manchester City were the only ‘Big Six’ team Brighton failed to earn a positive result against last season with Potter’s team achieving an historic top half finish. Their final position of ninth was reflective of the way the Seagulls played the campaign. At one point, some even questioned whether Brighton could qualify for Europe.
This success alerted bigger clubs to some of Brighton’s best performers which resulted in Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella joining Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea respectively this summer. However, the performance against Manchester United suggests Potter has already found replacements to keep his team moving forward.
Cucurella was sold to Chelsea just days before the trip to Old Trafford, but Potter shuffled the pack to deploy Leandro Trossard down the left wing against Manchester United to great effect. In central midfield, Moises Caicedo was influential on both sides of the ball and did many of the same jobs that made Bissouma so integral for the Seagulls.
“Graham Potter is the best English coach in the game,” said Pep Guardiola after a match against Brighton last season and the evidence is piling up to support the Manchester City manager’s claim. While English coaches have previously been typecast as being old-fashioned or behind the curve, Potter is very much at the vanguard of the modern game with his ideas and methods.
Brighton are renowned for the attractive, possession-based football they play and after a transitional first season in charge Potter has now shown that it can deliver results. Another top-half finish this season would stand as one of the greatest achievements in recent Premier League history given the resources at the Amex Stadium and the departure of Bissouma and Cucurella over the summer.
All this suggests Potter should be next in line for a ‘Big Six’ job whenever one comes up next. Potter’s style of play and general view of the sport would work well at the elite level of the English and European game. There’s a reason his Brighton team are so effective against the best teams in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur reportedly considered Potter before appointing Nuno Espirito Santo and Antonio Conte. The 47-year-old was also linked with the Manchester United job after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but they too made a different appointment in the end. Potter’s continued success since then should keep him on the ‘Big Six’s’ radar.
Of course, Potter’s success at Brighton is down to more than just his coaching and management, even if that has played an important part. There is a scouting and recruitment department at the Amex Stadium with a track record of finding talent where other clubs haven’t looked. It’s not just Potter who is modern and forward thinking. As a club, Brighton is modern and forward thinking too.
Potter needs smart recruitment behind him to implement his ideas and so some clubs might not be a good fit for him. But at the right club and with the right structure in place the 47-year-old could take the next step in his managerial career. The longer the ‘Big Six’ wait to hire Potter, the more damage he will do to them in matches like the one at Old Trafford on Sunday.