According to reports, Graham Potter is in talks with Crystal Palace over becoming their new manager - after Roy Hodgson walked away from Selhurst Park for the second time. The last man to manage both Brighton and Palace was Alan Mullery, and his appointment at Palace in 1982, having been Brighton manager for five years, sparked protests and boycotts from some of the south London faithful.
Potter’s arrival is unlikely to spark the same reaction. Perhaps because he isn’t a key man behind this unique rivalry as Mullery was. After a heated FA Cup tie between the two in 1977, as Brighton manager, Mullery threw a handful of coins to the ground and claimed “That’s all Crystal Palace are worth!”. No wonder his arrival didn’t go down well.
Having been sacked by Chelsea in April, Potter has been touted for another job in England’s top tier this summer. Leicester and Leeds United held outside interest but surely that has evaporated with their relegation, while every other Premier League side is satisfied with their current incumbent. Well, except Tottenham Hotspur.
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The mess in north London that neither Antonio Conte nor Jose Mourinho could solve has made that job, and working with Daniel Levy, unappetising. It has left Palace in prime position to take their pick of their available managers. The Palace job suits Potter too.
As he proved at Brighton and Chelsea, he prefers to work at a club where he is given more control. The Stamford Bridge gig essentially ran away with him. Reports this morning suggest he was against the signing of Enzo Fernandez in January and had serious concerns over the size of his squad. The board ignored him and signed Fernandez anyway, proving how little faith they had in the man in charge.
It ended in dismal fashion, with a group of players and an owner who completely lost their way this season. But as we saw, they got even worse under Frank Lampard, eventually finishing 12th, before turning to Mauricio Pochettino this season. The Palace job, if he chooses to take it, will be far more suited to Potter.
It’ll be comparable to what he was able to build at Brighton. He won’t have £550m spent on players he doesn’t actually want and instead, will be given the time to build something sustainable and exciting. With Michael Olise and Ebere Eze already at the club, Palace have two exciting youngsters that can flourish under Potter and a board that will back him, without ignoring his requests.
Roberto De Zerbi’s impressive stint at Brighton, leading them to sixth has perhaps diminished the work that Potter has done so far in his Premier League career. So Palace not only provides the perfect opportunity for him to get back into work, but also a chance to re-establish himself as one of the finest English coaches we have. He’s certainly ten times better than Lampard is.
Palace aren’t under any threat of relegation, and they should be safe next season. But what Potter has the chance to do is move the club on from Roy Hodgson. They’ve tried and failed twice to do that, first turning to him to rescue them from the Frank de Boer situation, before he came in for Patrick Vieria to keep them comfortably in the top flight this term.
What Potter can do is build something for the long-term at Selhurst Park. They won’t need to rely on Roy any longer if they can give him time and control. Plus, he’ll bring attractive football and exciting young players through the ranks. It seems like the perfect fit, and it’s a long way from the protests that surrounded Alan Mullery’s arrival in 1982.
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