Rewind to August 7. Erik ten Hag played out his first Premier League match as manager of Manchester United. By the time the game was over, Ten Hag witnessed first hand what Graham Potter can do. Brighton outplayed Man United at Old Trafford and won 2-1 on the day. The result itself was very impressive, but what stood out even more was Brighton’s approach and how a well thought out game plan was executed to perfection.
The former Seagulls head coach set up his side in a fluid 3-4-2-1 formation. In spells, it transitioned to a 3-4-3 with the front-line stretching across the pitch to create more width. The wing-backs – in this case, Leandro Trossard and Solly March – often joined Danny Welbeck, the
Adam Lallana and Pascal Gross were the two No.10s, who also joined the attack. One of Lallana or Gross at a time would drop back slightly to then make a midfield diamond and try to crowd United out when the hosts had the ball. What Brighton had with the two No.10s and the advancing wing-backs was a front five – a real statement of intent from Potter and his Brighton side at Old Trafford.
The wing-backs, rather than getting back and making it a back-five all of the time, often stayed high up the pitch which in essence pinned United back. The two wide players found themselves in behind a helpless United back-line on numerous occasions, especially in the first-half. It was a Potter masterstroke.
It’s of course going to take some time for Potter to get his ideas across to his new squad at Chelsea. Todd Boehly and the club’s board are prepared to give Potter plenty of time to build his long-term project. Something Potter was able to do in his time at Brighton was get his style and approach across pretty swiftly.
The Seagulls were playing Potter’s type of football in his first season in the Premier League despite the results not going their way. It’s an exciting time for Chelsea. Chelsea could really do with a new lease of life and that’s what the owners will hope Potter can implement.