Brighton have started the Premier League season
well under former Östersund and Swansea manager Graham Potter. Potter, of course, has previous
Premier League experience, albeit limited: he played a small number of games for Southampton
in 1996/97, including a sub appearance in the famous 6-3 win over Manchester United.
His playing career never really hit the heights, but Potter is quickly making a name for himself
in management, implementing a style at Brighton that is in many ways a radical departure from
his talented, but pragmatic, predecessor Chris Hughton. Potter’s team have used a number of formations
this season and, indeed, system flexibility is one of his hallmarks. The narrow 4-4-2
and a 3-4-3 with wing backs have been the most common systems, but Potter has also used
a 3-5-2 with variants. Within these systems, though, there are several
key tenets that Potter sticks to. Firstly, and an area of continuity from Hughton’s
set-up, Brighton press with their forwards but tend to otherwise construct an organised,
compact mid and low block. The strikers hassle and harry the opposition to try to force long
balls, which can then be intercepted or won aerially – if the opposition do play through
the initial press, then they meet a rigid two banks or four or banks of four and five,
with the midfield line moving across the pitch to generate central numerical supremacy. Brighton’s other major feature under Potter
is the desire to build from the back. In Mat Ryan, they have a keeper who is very good
with the ball at his feet and in Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, and Dan Burn, they have defenders
who can pass or carry the ball well. Brighton like to use Dunk as a kind of sweeper when
playing with three defenders, but in either formation the principles are the same – to
create numerical superiority in low positions on the pitch to allow Brighton to play past
high pressing sides. In transition, Brighton will either play quite
long, again using the strong passing skills at the back and the movement and aggressive
running of forwards like Neil Maupay, or build using short passes through the centre and
using the wide areas – this form of possession-based football is far from ponderous though, and
both of Brighton’s methods rely on quick passing and dynamic running off the ball. A key area is the right half space, where
Pascal Gross, consistently the most creative and able player under Hughton, is again important.
Brighton look to play Gross into space in this area, either with progressive passes
from the back or quick interchanges through central midfielders Dale Stephens and Davy
Propper. Gross can then act as a pivot for an attack through the wide area, shifting
the ball wide for an overlapping run by Martin Montoya, or shifting the angle back inside
to look for runs from Maupay or Aaron Connolly, both of whom exhibit excellent running off
the ball to isolate or drag centre backs from their positions. On the left hand side, Potter uses Dan Burn
either as a left-sided centre back with licence to carry the ball forwards in a three man
back line, or as a left back in a four man back line. Burn’s versatility in this role is crucial
for Brighton, as it means they can comfortably switch between formations, with Solly March
or the versatile Steven Alzate playing as a left wing-back. As a left-sided centre back
Burn can carry to break to the press, pop little passes out to the wing back and maintain
his run, or play passes infield before becoming a deeper wide option to receive the ball back. And in a 4-4-2, Potter likes the wide midfielders
like Leandro Trossart or Aaron Mooy to play fairly narrowly to create overloads in central
areas and facilitate passing through the opposition, so Burn’s ability to overlap is key – again,
though, the intention is the creation of little diamond-shaped passing options so that Brighton
can progress the ball at speed while retaining possession. Potter is lucky to have a player
with Burn’s versatility in this regard, but he’s also making the most of him. The clearest indication of Brighton’s shifting
styles is the eye-test, but the numbers stack up too. Last season, Brighton’s xG per 90
was the second lowest in the league, at 0.94 – this season they sit at 1.27 after 12
games played. Indeed, in every metric so far this season
Brighton have shown improvement. You can see how they are keeping the ball more, passing
more, making more attacking passes and from better areas, and shooting more, all without
allowing more shots against. Potter’s coaching philosophy of tactical
adaptability, keeping possession and moving the ball quickly, and intelligent positioning
on the pitch has been added to Brighton’s existing ability under Hughton to defend in
a good shape, but with some more pressing added. It’s a solid mix which has seen players
like Burn, Dunk, and Maupuy shine and Potter enhance his reputation still further.

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Dennis Veasley

61 thoughts on “Tactics Explained: Graham Potter’s Brighton”

  1. Was waiting for a video on Brighton. Can you make a video on why kloppo can still lose the league even though he has won the game against city. I meant the system issues he faces while attacking

  2. Could Tifo Football please explore the feasibility of introducing a White Card in football, that is a card that puts a belligerent player in time out of the pitch? Such a rule will cover that grey area when a player hasn't done something really worthy of a red card, but letting the player to continue playing with a mere yellow card warning would be too lenient. For example, when a heated game is tied, and the last defender commits a professional foul by pulling back an attacker who has gone through on goal. A red card would ruin the remainder of the game, but a mere yellow card (which is the current rule) would be too lenient.

    …. Michel Platini and legendary referee Collina had proposed this White Card in the past. Would love to hear you guys add that to your list of Sensible Questions. 👍

  3. Please make a video explaining why Everton have been so shit this season (& please don't do a podcast about it, make a short & simple video like this one)

  4. @TifoFootball How much international tv dominance does the EPL still have over seas? if any

    Thanks for the videos I like them

  5. Any thoughts on a video about the Spanish FA's international expansion? Both with games proposed in the USA and the cup in the Gulf for the next few years

  6. me: i have an econ test i rlly need to study for

    youtube: Tifo Football uploaded a new video

    me: eh i’m not gonna use econ while i’m managing a team in the champions league😂

  7. Top coach Graham Potter. Really admire him. He'll make his name with Brighton. Big clubs like Spurs and Arsenal should be making offers for him if they know what's good for them instead of going for overhyped Latino managers like Pochettino, Emery, Pellegrini and Silva.

    Potter gets his team playing like a top club, building up from the back. And he doesn't treat that like a passing fad. If they start doing it in a game, they keep it up, patiently building from the back.

    I'm glad this channel pointed out that he tries to pressure the opposing club to do long balls to the other's goal. This is a strategy he uses and has been successful with it. Tactically astute. Obviously a student of the game.

    And smart man, probably one of the most intelligent coaches in the league, he knows system and tactical flexibility is the name of the game. His in-game changes are pretty good: good timing and good choice of subs.

    His man management and training seem good – he's getting the most out of his players. He's getting them to do good team work and the results are showing on the pitch – he's taken Brighton above quite a few bigger richer clubs in the table – it's even above Spurs and Everton right now, both of whom Brighton have beaten this season.

    Beating the strong defenses of both clubs is an achievement. Especially in the Spurs game they played well. In the second half of the game against Everton, their performance was very good. They kept the pressure on the other team very well. The quick passing with overlapping runs by Burn and others and the great cross by Trossard for an assist for their third goal in this game was well executed.

    Reminds me a little bit of Leicester City – a club punching above its weight, an underdog winning games against much bigger and richer competitors.

    And their transfer policy seems to be hitting the right mark. They keep the older players if they're performing, like Glenn Murray (think Potter should start him in more games – he's still one of the best players in the club). And their buys have been very good – Trossard for example.

    A good balance of sound attacking and strong defending – Dunk is very underrated – this will see them keep a favorable position in the table, especially as some of the midtable clubs and big six clubs are underperforming this season.

    Underrated coach. We should keep an eye on Graham Potter and BHA.

    Also, should mention what he did at Swansea. Very impressive in the League Cup last season and they should have won the tie against Man City. Two clearly and obviously wrong referee calls stopped them from doing that. They were robbed. They would have been in the final had the referees not made gross mistakes in that game.

    Definitely an emerging talent in the managerial sphere.

  8. Thank you for doing a video on Brighton. I'm a massive supporter and they're always a team that gets overlooked in every aspect. I never see videos about them or our history but our rise has been fantastic, not too dissimilar to Bournemouths but never talked about as often. And Potters football style is a joy to watch

  9. When united beat them I came away way more impressed with Brighton. At times they we’re looking like a prime Barcelona with their ball movement! Potter is a really good tactician

  10. As a Swansea fan I thought it was a strange move, although he has done well and you can see transferable principles from his time with us.
    He likes creative wide players and adaptable strikers.
    We were incredibly unlucky against man city in the FA cup and I think with and out and out left wing back and a solid defensive midfielder he could allow Mooy and Gross to dictate the midfield

  11. UP THE ALBION 🔵⚪🔵⚪ Got Leicester Liverpool and Arsenal next tho, our real test will be to not get battered 4-0 in every game 😭

  12. So basically, he plays any formation, and plays either possession or long balls, and presses with some players but doesn't with others. How do you expect me to re-create this on FM20?

  13. Can you please do a video on what happened to Bolton Wanderers? How did they get to where they are today? They have 1 point from 14 matches this season!!!

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