HomeManager in FocusBrighton have arrived

Brighton have arrived

Published on:

Brighton and Hove Albion, after their highest-ever PL finish last season, made some start to their 2021-22 campaign. Beating Man Utd 1-2 to get their first win at Old Trafford was just the beginning. Graham Potter once again has shown why he is one of the smartest managers in the Premier League. The fluid way his Brighton side adapts its tactics game by game, and even in-game from time to time, is truly special. Unbeaten in the PL, it was only a matter of time before Potter’s genius was recognised by the wider public.

Graham Potter is an underrated gem who is now going to grace the corridors of Stamford Bridge. The managerial wunderkind has come a long way from Swedish lower divisions and this job is a vindication of his efforts and talents.

Brighton and Hove Albion fans would undoubtedly be distraught at the news. However, Brighton will take some solace from the fact that they will always be a huge part of Potter’s legacy. Swansea gave him his chance in England, but Brighton bet on him to ace the Premier League. And ace the Premier League he did. Potter leaves Brighton in 4th place, after a resounding 5-2 win against Leicester.

What is so amazing about Graham Potter and his tactics is that no matter the changes to the team sheet or the match-by-match positional changes his players have to adapt to, his Brighton team’s performances do not waiver. The team always plays aesthetically pleasing football with excellent defensive structures. They always create big chances no matter who the opponent is, and the stutter in Brighton’s squad performances has been fixed by Graham Potter with a few tweaks to his tactical setup. Those little tactical tweaks yielded wins against two of the fiercest London rivals last season. Arteta’s Arsenal and Conte’s Tottenham Hotspurs felt Potter’s side playing at their full flow and the PL is again on notice after their deserved win against Man Utd.

Their 4-0 win at the Amex against Manchester United last season was evidence of the quality the Seagulls are capable of producing on the pitch. It was also the perfect example of the lack of quality in the Red Devil’s squad right now. However, it was still put down to the dysfunction at United. Now, with Erik ten Hag at the helm, credit is due.

Brighton finished with their best points tally in the Premier League last season and were destined to improve upon it despite losing important players like Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella.

As the architect of that rise now leaves, it’ll be interesting to see where Brighton end up in the league at the end of the season.

Let’s take a look at how Graham Potter has continued to evolve and adapt his Brighton sides tactics and how his genius has led to him scoring a job at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

The launchpad

Brighton drastically underperformed their xG and in turn their expected points during Potter’s first season, they ended the season in 16th position but expected stats showed that they actually should have come 5th. Basically in the 2020-21 season, Brighton deserved to end in the European spots but were nowhere close.

But those performances have essentially acted as a launchpad for Brighton ever since. At the start of the next season, they seemingly picked up from where they had left off. Their start to this season has been explosive, to say the least.

After the first 10 games last season, Brighton were flying high with the tactics of Graham Potter. They were sitting in a well-deserved 7th position on the table. The new signings of Mwepu and Cucurella were slowly getting embedded into this Brighton side as they adapted to the tactics of Graham Potter.

Last season, Brighton were one of the best defensive teams in the league which made them one of the toughest teams to face at home. Bigger teams went to Brighton and always looked at it as a potential banana skin. Underperforming elites had their pride stripped off by Brighton’s hungry team and manager.

They did have a bit of stutter in the league in the winter. Brighton looked depleted from the start of November to the end of February. The criticism levelled at Brighton, Graham Potter and the tactics was that the team was very easy to cut through and struggled to deal with fast transitions.

It is also important to note that Yves Bissouma, probably the best destroyer in the league, had gone to the AFCON and was dealing with fatigue because of the continental competition.

However, that absence allowed Potter to fine-tune his side to account for his absence. That process bore fruit when Bissouma was sold to Spurs.

The recovery

The way Brighton recovered after the Stutter could be attributed to their new signings and  little tactical tweaks from Graham Potter.

Marc Cucurella and Enock Mwepu, finally started hitting top form around March. Mwepu is set to star this season while Cucurella’s performances in just those six months had Chelsea splashing the cash on him.

Mwepu and Cucurella’s all-around displays really helped Potter to stop the bad run of form. Mwepu in just under 1000 minutes contributed 2 goals and 4 assists.

Marc Cucurella became one of the best fullbacks/wingbacks in the league. His role in the buildup play, cutting through opposition press and being press-resistant himself proved to be the lynchpin of Potter’s fluid system of ball progression.

Moises Caicedo is another player who contributed to Brighton’s recovery. The Ecuadorian midfielder took time to bed into this Brighton side but has since exploded into life. A box-to-box raider with excellent defensive contribution, he is one of the main reasons Brighton have become an extremely secure side in transition.

Manchester United were reportedly interested in him but Brighton moved quickly. Now, while Man Utd play a threadbare midfield while splashing the cash on Casemiro, Caicedo played a huge part in bossing United’s midfield in an iconic win.

The other players who have been performing exceptionally for Brighton last were Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister, Adam Webster and Danny Welbeck. Trossard, Webster and Mac Allister were the best players in their position in the league outside of the traditional top 6 sides. MacAllister and Trossard especially have been magnificent for Brighton. The tactical tweaks from Graham Potter really allowed each player to do what they do best while their teammates complemented their games beautifully. The result was a machine that was more than the sum of its parts. The results are clear for everyone to see.


Brighton this season

Brighton and Graham Potter would have looked to secure a spot for European competitions. Players like MacAllister, Trossard and Veltman had been successfully remodeled by Graham Potter.

Levi Colwill arrived from Chelsea on loan to shore up the defensive ranks. However, under a new manager now in the middle of the season, Brighton’s form could fall off.

There have been no indications as to who Brighton are looking at to fill Potter’s void. Undoubtedly it is a large void at that, arguably bigger than any player.

Vidur Arora
A Swansea City fan, who fell in love with the game watching Joe Allen play. Usually found in the wild with headphones in his ears and bobbing his head. Love his art too.

also read