Why Spurs should hire Graham Potter

Tottenham next manager odds: Why 10/1 Graham Potter is the right man for Spurs

Tottenham's new manager search looks set to linger on into the summer.

Early favourites Erik ten Hag and Maurizio Sarri have both drifted massively in the betting, with the former signing a new contract at Ajax and the latter on the slide having been linked to the Roma job, which has just been taken by the man Tottenham sacked - Jose Mourinho.

That is making the search, and the market, fascinating.

Next Tottenham manager odds (via Sky Bet)

  • Brendan Rodgers - 3/1
  • Scott Parker - 4/1
  • Nuno Espirito Santo - 5/1
  • Ralf Rangnick - 6/1
  • Erik ten Hag - 8/1
  • Graham Potter - 8/1

Odds correct at 1600 BST (04/05/21)

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is now the favourite, followed by Fulham boss Scott Parker who looks likely to take his side straight back down to the Sky Bet Championship.

Former RB Leipzig head coach Ralf Rangnick is in the mix according to the odds, as are two strong candidates who face off on Sunday in the Premier League: Nuno Espirito Santo and Graham Potter.

If the prices are anything to go by, Nuno, at 5/1 across the board, is twice as likely to be the next Spurs manager as Potter.

But the Brighton boss would be no 10/1 hopeful punt. He's a best bet.

From coaching students to the Premier League

Graham Potter took Ostersunds from the Swedish fourth tier to the Europa League

This would be some shift from superstar manager Mourinho, but given Jose's modest playing career and well-known background as an interpreter before becoming one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, perhaps it's not all that odd.

Still, Mourinho was schooled by Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal, Potter started in school. Well, not quite.

In 2011, a then 36-year-old Potter left his part-time job coaching at Leeds Beckett University for a first-team role at fourth-tier Swedish minnows Ostersunds.

By 2015 they were in the top flight, by 2018 they'd beaten Arsenal in the Europa League and by that summer he was Swansea manager.

Victory over the Gunners may have been in vain, a lost cause in the second leg of their last-32 tie, but boy did it get this former Birmingham right-back turning heads. His move back to the UK seemed like an inevitability from then on.

But looking beyond a 10th-place Championship finish with Swansea, as Potter oversaw a major rebuild in difficult circumstances, took a little more doing. The Swans underlying numbers that season suggested they warranted a top-six finish.

Swansea's Expected Goal Difference (xGD) per game | 18/19 - Present

Brighton noticed. And eight years after coaching a bunch of students, Potter was a Premier League manager.

The parallels with the current situation are stark. The Premier League table might indicate that Brighton have been relegation battlers since Potter took charge, but there is far more to it than that.

How Potter is improving Brighton

The Seagulls are a much better team now than under Chris Hughton, with a much, much higher ceiling.

While Brighton did survive under Hughton in 2018/19, the performance data suggested they deserved to be relegated, ranking as the third worst team in the Premier League.

What is expected goals (xG)?

  • Expected goals (xG) is a metric that measures the quality of any given scoring opportunity
  • Expected goals for (xGF) is the xG created by a team
  • Expected goals against (xGA) is xG conceded by a team
  • xG process is the rate at which a teams creates and concedes chances

Potter immediately made his mark, guiding the team to comfortable safety in first season, improving their underlying process along with playing style, being on average 0.4 expected goals better per game than under Hughton, but still finishing with a negative xGD.

From last season to this, there has been a monstrous leap.

Brighton’s 10-game rolling xG averages under Graham Potter | Premier League

Through 33 games of the 2020/21 season, Brighton boast a positive xG process, and are on average 0.73 xG better per game than last season and a huge 1.12 xG better per game than Hughton’s final season in charge.

Their xG numbers have them sitting in the top six of Infogol’s xG table, so they are extremely unfortunate to have been in a relegation fight this term.

The growth seen in Brighton has been sensational, especially as they haven’t exactly splashed the cash.

Imagine if Potter had money to spend.

Potter needs better players

One of the main reasons Brighton aren’t in the top half this season is wastefulness in front of goal.

Defensively, only Manchester City (0.79) and Chelsea (0.87) have bettered Brighton's 1.07 xGA per game (1.07) - the attack has let them down.

In Potter’s system and style, Brighton create plenty of chances, averaging 1.58 xGF per game, but taking those chances has proved an issue.

Over the course of the season, we would have expected Brighton to score close to 52 goals (51.5 xGF) based on the quality of chances they have created; they’ve scored just 33.

An underperformance of nearly 19 goals makes them officially the least clinical, or most wasteful, team in the Premier League. Based on the same metric, Spurs are top of the charts, scoring nearly eight more goals than would be expected.

Harry Kane - Goals v Expected Goals (xG) since 2014 | Premier League

It’s not a one-off either, with Tottenham scoring five more than expected in 2019/20, seven more in 2018/19, three more in 2017/18 and a whopping 15 more in 2016/17. Having one of the best finishers on the planet helps.

If Potter were able to replicate his system and process at Tottenham, with the higher quality finishers they possess, this is a match made in heaven.

Still sound like a 10/1 hopeful punt?

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy doesn't strike me as the sort to take a gamble, but Potter really is his best bet.

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