Chelsea confirmed Graham Potter as their new manager on Thursday just over 24 hours after parting company with Thomas Tuchel six games into the Premier League season.
The 47-year-old Potter, who has earned a glowing reputation as a visionary coach at Brighton & Hove Albion, has agreed to a five-year contract with the six-time English champions.
His appointment is quite a departure for a club usually selecting household names with experience at Europe’s top clubs, but it signifies a likely change of approach.
He is the first managerial appointment under new American chairman Todd Boehly, who led a takeover three months ago.
“We are thrilled to bring Graham to Chelsea. He is a proven coach and an innovator in the Premier League who fits our vision for the Club,” Boehly said in a statement.
“Not only is he extremely talented on the pitch, he has skills and capabilities that extend beyond the pitch which will make Chelsea a more successful Club.
“We look forward to supporting him, his coaching team and the squad in realising their full potential in the coming months and years.”
Tuchel, who won the Champions League for Chelsea a few months after replacing Frank Lampard at the start of 2021, parted company with the club on Wednesday, following Chelsea’s surprise loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Chelsea spent around 250 million pounds ($287 million) in the summer transfer window but are sixth in the Premier League with 10 points after six games, losing at Leeds and Southampton.
The speed at which Potter has been installed as Tuchel’s replacement suggests Chelsea had their eye on the man who cut his teeth at Swedish club Ostersunds, taking them from the fourth tier to the top flight for the first time and into Europe.
Potter’s assistant Billy Reid, first-team coaches Bjorn Hamberg and Bruno Saltor, goalkeeping coach Ben Roberts and assistant head of recruitment Kyle Macaulay will join him at Chelsea.
His first assignment will be away to local rivals Fulham on Saturday.
“I am incredibly proud and excited to represent Chelsea FC, this fantastic football club,” said Potter, who had a short spell with Swansea City before taking over at Brighton in 2019.
“I am very excited to partner with Chelsea’s new ownership group and look forward to meeting and working with the exciting group of players and to develop a team and culture that our amazing fans can be proud of.”
Brighton sold wing back Marc Cucurella to Chelsea in the summer but despite not having the budget of the division’s big hitters they enjoyed a superb start, sitting in fourth place with four wins, one draw and one defeat from six games.
Last season Brighton finished ninth, a club record in the top flight, having finished 15th and 16th before that.
Potter’s flexible playing style, innovative coaching methods and attention to detail at Brighton have won many admirers including Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
Not afraid to push players outside their comfort zone, he once got his Ostersunds players to perform the ballet Swan Lake.
The Football Association had even earmarked Potter as a potential future successor to England manager Gareth Southgate.
“He obviously has a clear idea about football and he is doing a brilliant job,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of Potter a year ago. “He has brought a clear identity to how he wants his teams to play. He is an innovator and is adventurous.”
His departure, along with his coaching team, is a blow for Brighton, who confirmed under-21 coach Andrew Crofts would be in charge for the weekend clash at Bournemouth.
“I am very disappointed that Graham will be leaving us,” Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said. “He has done exceptionally well over the past three-and-a-bit seasons, he is an exceptional head coach and an exceptional person. He will be hugely missed at our football club.”