“He is maybe the best English manager right now,” Pep Guardiola said of Graham Potter in January after Manchester City edged out Brighton and Hove Albion at the Etihad.
“He showed to all other managers, to all of football, how to show courage, to be brave and play good football.”
Two weeks earlier Potter had been answering questions about his future after a social media backlash to his methods.
“It is hard when people from your own club criticise you,” he told the Brighton and Hove Independent when informed supporters were expressing discontent with his performance online.
“That is hard. But you have to respect that because they care for the club, they want it to do well, and that is also fair.
“I don’t go on social media – I think that’s quite dangerous for someone in my position.”
Brighton followers had good reason to be frustrated. The Seagulls had registered just five Premier League victories across 2020 – only one came at home – and hovered perilously above the relegation zone.
Potter would channel his own disappointment to ensure Brighton lost one of their next eight games – at Manchester City before Guardiola expressed his admiration – as he masterminded wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
He has consecutively guided the South Coast club to a club-record 41 points in his two Premier League seasons in charge at the Amex while helping Robert Sanchez and Ben White earn EURO2020 call-ups with Spain and England respectively this summer.
But would the 46-year-old be a good fit for Everton? He was elevated to bookmaker favourite after Nuno Espirito Santo closed in – and then dropped out – of the running to replace Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace.
Potter would certainly need to develop a thicker skin if he was to take the Goodison Park hot-seat. Everton are desperate for simultaneous success and longevity and the new man will be judged quickly regardless of experience.
From the Swedish fourth division to replacing a three-time Champions League winner in little over a decade? It would be some ask.
But the former Ghana women technical director has been a popular figure in all of his senior management jobs.
He took Ostersund from the fourth-tier in Sweden to the Europa League in eight seasons and beat Galatasaray, PAOK and Arsenal along the way. From there, it was Swansea, where he lasted 12 months before being headhunted by Brighton.
It is an interesting history and his appointment for Everton would resemble, somewhat, that of David Moyes in 2002.
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He is a well-respected figure amongst inner circles but lacks big-time experience. It would be a risk. But is it a calculated one?
There is a suggestion Brighton unperformed against their expected results in the Premier League last season due to a lack of individual quality.
Everton would certainly give Potter better resources to match his ambition and Jamie Carragher predicted a continued rise for his career in January. He may even have predicted the next move of Marcel Brands.
He said: “At the highest level, sporting directors will study the data as much as their eyes, the process of one complementing the other sure to expand.
“Because of that, wherever Brighton finish this season, Potter is unlikely to be short of admirers and future job offers.”
Brands could well be tempted by Potter. Unlike Carlo Ancelotti, where he bowed to his transfer demands, he would be able to mould a young manager to his desired image and build a project towards the move to Bramley-Moore Dock.
The former West Bromwich Albion and York City full-back spent £40m on Adam Webster and Neal Maupay in his first summer at Brighton – both are Premier League regulars – but the highest fee splashed out last summer was £4m on Moises Caicedo.
Brands would be able to hand Potter something his current club cannot – better quality and resource – and test the hypothesis of Guardiola and Carragher.
Brave and courageous? Capable of transferring his methods to the big-time?
It would be a baptism of fire. From managing Jacob Wigren at Ostersund to James Rodriguez at Everton in the space of 10 years is a gigantic step. Dealing with big reputations would be totally alien to Potter.
So how big a risk-taker is Brands? Could Potter provide the left-field candidate who can finally bring the stability – and success – Farhad Moshiri craves?
One thing is certain should he be appointed Everton manager though.
Staying away from social media is probably wise.