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You’ve probably never even heard of the best English manager in the world right now

Graham Potter is the eccentric mastermind behind a revolution in northern Sweden

The name Graham Potter is probably an unfamiliar one to you.

As a player he featured most regularly for York City in the early years of the 21st century and is the proud owner of a solitary cap for England Under-21s.

Spells with Birmingham, Stoke, Southampton and West Brom represent a respectable yet unremarkable career.

These days, he’s the best English manager in the world, and he’s preparing to take on Arsenal in the Europa League.

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In the winter of 2010, Potter moved to the north of Sweden and hung his framed Master’s degree in Leadership and Emotional Intelligence on the walls of the manager’s office at Ostersunds football club.

The club were only founded in 1997 and played their football in Swedish football’s fourth tier at the time.

Now, he’s led his Osterunds side to the last 32 of the Europa League, where he will face Arsene Wenger’s side.

What’s more, he is the only English manager left in any European competition this season.

Potter, whose only managerial experience before taking charge at Ostersunds had been as assistant to the England Universities squad, masterminded unexpected victories against Galatasaray and PAOK in qualifying with performances that can only be described as tactical masterclasses and exhibitions in effective motivation.

Ostersunds had only entered Europa League qualifying by virtue of a Swedish Cup victory and all accumulator enthusiasts would have had their hearts and wallets broken by the result over Turkish giants Galatasaray, a win that provoked a generous round of applause from the notoriously fierce Istanbul Ultras.


Potter is not your conventional manager.

His unusual methods off the pitch are arguably more notable than his side’s performances on it.

With a focus on using cultural activities to bond the squad, keep them humble, and ensure they engage with the local community, Potter has broke new ground when it comes to club identity and ethos.

The squad have written a play together, collaborated on a book, started a on-going art project and, best of all, performed Swan Lake in front of 1,500 audience members at a local theatre.

Not every player is keen on public ballet and subtle character development but Potter’s philosophy rules above all.

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On the pitch he’s seen as something of a maverick as well.

He’s one of very few managers in Sweden to implement a system with three at the back and he tinkers with the particulars of his side’s shape often.

The results are undeniable.

He guided Ostersunds to back-to-back promotions in his first two seasons in charge.

It took him three seasons to then reach the top flight before leading his side to a more than respectable eighth placed finish in the club’s first year at the highest standard of the country’s domestic game.

The club are set for something better this season, currently residing in fifth place.

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Potter’s revolution is one of the biggest talking points in Swedish sport.

When he was appointed in 2011 the average attendance at the Jamtkraft Arena was a very modest 783.

This season 6,000 fans turn up on a weekly basis to to check on whether the club’s progress is still hurtling at full tilt.

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Recruiting new players has not always been easy either.

Many Swedish players are reluctant to move so far north where temperatures drop to a brisk -25°c.

This is no RB Leipzig story either, Red Bull’s cash has had nothing to do with Ostersunds’ leapfrogging up the leagues.

Their owner is passionate and committed but he does not have the resources to import star talent capable of fast-tracking the club to success.

Everything Ostersunds have achieved has been earned the hard way and Potter must take the bulk of the credit.


Comparisons with Roy Hodgson are inevitable.

He may have drunk from the poisoned chalice with England but Hodgson’s legacy in Sweden is one that can not be dented.

His spells at the helm of Halmstad, Oddevold, Orebro and Malmo earned him a reputation as a supreme tactician.

Malmo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first club, still have a portion of their stadium named in Hodgson’s honour.

But Potter is his own man and while it’s inevitable he will be poached by a bigger club at some point, for now his Ostersunds revolution should be admired and respected.

Watch your back, Gareth Southgate, there’s a genius waiting in the Arctic circle.