Karren Brady: Graham Potter may be unassuming and understated… but new Chelsea boss’ football will never be boring

    THE managerial roundabout is swishing around as early as ever with Graham Potter’s appointment at Chelsea the first of the headline hitters.

    Rob Page jumped on to the moving twirler some while ago but his job as Wales boss has been confirmed with a four-year contract that all but kicks off with the World Cup in November.

    Chelsea have taken a risk by appointing Graham Potter


    Chelsea have taken a risk by appointing Graham PotterCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
    Rob Page was recently handed a new Wales contract


    Rob Page was recently handed a new Wales contractCredit: Alamy

    For both, those are quite some leaps.

    The actual difference in what they do is enormous — although nothing like as much as that in salaries.

    Page’s £350,000-a-year or so is dwarfed by Potter’s who will be reportedly paid at least that for each FORTNIGHT at Stamford Bridge.

    Neither has ever been a big name, either as a player or a previous managerial job.

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    Page, 48, was a centre-back tough enough to clamber to a season in the Premier League with Watford but generally a sterling member of the lower divisions.

    And 47-year-old Potter’s playing past was not a lot different.

    His career in the Premier League was even briefer than Page’s, a mere now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t eight matches with Southampton and plenty in the hinterland.

    And these fast stats stress the simple truth that you don’t have to be an outstanding player or, for that matter much of a player at all (witness Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and many more) to be a top manager.

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    Indeed, the better the player the harder it becomes.

    Expectations are greater and I must say I also wonder whether many of those possessing God-given, sublime skills are sympathetic enough with the struggles of journeymen pros.

    Potter must be among the most unemotional of coaches.

    By comparison, say, Gareth Southgate is a spitfire and Wenger a dervish.

    Meanwhile, Potter may be boiling or bubbling inside but merely strokes his beard.

    He and Page are successful representatives of those un-managers (unassertive, unassuming, understated and understanding) upon whom so many clubs depend.

    For all their low-key backgrounds, though, the football they promote is anything but boring.

    At Stamford Bridge, for the first time in his career, Potter will be working with superstars while Page, for all that he is an international team boss, has had only limited experience of high-octane performers.

    These include Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey for whom he has succeeded in providing a relaxed atmosphere away from sometimes stormy club life.

    Wales’ recent achievements suggest Ryan Giggs has not been missed at all.

    No doubt Potter’s people, fans at Brighton, players and employers, would say something similar.

    Technically, he remains an innovator.

    His approval here comes from Pep Guardiola, who commented: “Brighton are a joy to watch, a joy to analyse… his players move with freedom and everyone knows what they have to do.

    “They have the courage to play everywhere.”

    There are, I suspect, challenging times ahead for Potter and Chelsea.

    To be honest, I can’t really wish them particular luck.

    But I can Page and Wales.

    They took Giggs’ absence in their stride, reached the Euro 2020 knockout phase and then qualified for the Qatar World Cup.

    For a country of rugby obsession, Wales have an exceptional record of good footballers, admittedly a few of whom qualified because grandpa passed through Cardiff one day.

    Not Page, though.

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    He comes from the coalfield village of Tylorstown, once the home of world flyweight champ Jimmy Wilde, famous as ‘the ghost with the hammer in his hand’.

    The Rhondda will ring to Page’s name, too, should Wales wield the hammer to England in Qatar.


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