Potter backing Östersund to prove mettle against Gunners

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Graham Potter, the coach of tomorrow night’s Swedish opponents Östersund, says he’s excited to pit his wits against Arsene Wenger and that he remains full of admiration for the Frenchman despite his travails in recent years.

Since taking the reins at the Jämtkraft Arena in 2011, the Englishman – who Birmingham, Stoke, West Brom, Southampton and many others – has steered Östersund from the Swedish fourth tier to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, picking up the club’s first ever major trophy, the Swedish Cup, en route.

On the eve of the biggest tie in their 21-year history, Potter says his Östersund players are excited but undaunted by the visit of the Gunners.

“I’ve never got through to the last 16 of the Europa League so of course, it will be the biggest [achievement],” he told press [transcript by Football.London]on Wednesday.

“Everything we do now is new to us. That’s why I’m so proud of the players.

“I have faith in the players to deal with the opportunity. If we are successful it’s a huge moment for everybody.

Giving context to the journey he’s been on – his side have played 12 games in the Europa League this season – he added: “We’d never won a major trophy before, we won that [the Swedish Cup]. We were never in a Europa league qualification before, especially against a big team like Galatasaray and we coped with that really well.

“We had never been in the Europa League before and we coped with that, so I have complete faith in the players in terms of their ability to deal with the challenge and the opportunity.

“It goes without saying if we are successful it’s a huge moment for everybody connected with the club. Not just mine, but the players and the chairman I imagine.”

Some people have suggested that Arsenal’s trip to Ostersund is a bit like a David vs Goliath FA Cup third round tie. While willing to entertain the suggestion, Potter underlined that his team are not in the competition to make up the numbers.

“In some ways I know where you are coming from in terms of a small team and a big team,” he said.

“For us, in this type of game we just want to play as well as we can, use the opportunity to show what we’re about.

“Usually, in the third round of the FA Cup you haven’t beaten Galatasaray and Hertha Berlin. We’re all excited about the visit of Arsenal and we’re looking forward to the game.”

Asked about the criticism that Arsene Wenger faces back in England, both from the media and the terraces, Potter went on: “It’s not for me to say how Arsenal fans should act. He’s done an incredible amount for English football. He’s up there with anyone.

“I remember playing in the 90s when we were just coming out of the European ban and it was a bit like the dark ages. He is part of the reason why English football has changed.

“When you talk about a human level and for him to cope with what he has and stay at the top level for so long. He’s an inspiration for me.”

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If you’re looking to learn more about Potter’s time in Sweden, look no further than this fantastic article in the Coaches Voice by @SarahShepSport – in it, he outlines how his post-football education has shaped his coaching philosophy and how he’s helped a small Scandinavian town embark on one of modern football’s most romantic journeys. 

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NewSeason
NewSeason

Sounds like a great chap and to think he’s overseen 3 promotions is fantastic!
We always remember the team that won the Championship each year, but a team that has been promoted thrice in 6 years and beaten Galatasaray deserves plenty of plaudits.

Nketibag
Nketibag

This Potter guy sounds like an absolute wizard.

SG_Gooner
SG_Gooner

Need to send voldemort there

Mein Bergkampf

Away from home, I’d take a dumble-score-draw…. Something about Chambers of secrets… Er… let’s home it’s not Graham Potter and the half time wince… Ospiniamus… God I hate myself.

Double98
Double98

He’s got his mothers eyes

Frank
Frank

Potential Wenger replacement?

Pedant
Pedant

No, Wenger an inspiration?!? Done an incredible amount for English football??! He’s up there with anyone!??

We can’t have people saying good things about our manager, it’s just not right.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

Grow up Pedant. The vast majority of arsenal fans are more than willing to say these things even if they want him gone now. Your post just proves yet again that It’s not just the pessimists who are toxic.

Pedant
Pedant

Sorry, lol jks, hope that helps.

fourallstar
fourallstar

Mate. Read it again.

Hermitian
Hermitian

“has steered Östersund from the Swedish fourth tier to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, picking up the club’s first ever major trophy, the Swedish Cup, en route.”

Now it’s obvious where Graham’s son got his magic from.

MrSweaty
MrSweaty

His and the clubs story sounds like something out of Football Manager. I’m sure it will be an amazing occasion tomorrow night and hopefully we rain on their parade a little. COYG

A Different George
A Different George

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I think I remember something about the club being much disliked in Sweden, something reminiscent of the way RB Leipzig is viewed in the Bundesliga. Perhaps Swedish Arsenal supporters can either confirm this impression, or tell me I am confused.

Serpent
Serpent

No, that would be AFC Eskilstuna. (A bit like MK Dons.)

Östersund is a bit of a pet team right now, a lot of people root for them in Europa.

Double98
Double98

He looks like the dude off cbeebies that does the gardening – mr bloom
comment image

me 2
me 2

Funny isn’t it.
When Arsenal need their players most they get “injured”
It is so predictable.
So absolutely fucking predictable…

santori
santori

Those who think we have an easy ride to win this piddly tournament and gain entrance back into CL should think again.

We bought a player cup tied for this tournament.

We have a striker injured and are reliant on Welbeck plus a midfield with no engine and which can’t turn to save their lives.

So the narrative last few seasons was “don’t mind dropping out of CL”

I said it then, be careful for what you wish for.

We will be affected by lack of CL in market, the pool of (good) players willing to come to us will be that much smaller and knowing us we will compound our issues by buying second rates guising them as “world class”.

Truth is we should have been happy with CL for 19 odd seasons on the trot.

People like to have a moan about Wenger’s lack of european success but we were NEVER a European pedigree power house ever.

We conspired to win a second rate european trophy some many decades ago, once.

That’s it.

Now we are paying the price for wishing out.

Hopefully Welbeck and company do the business tomorrow. They should on paper have the power to beat Ostersunds.

But we know better as fans not to get our hopes up.

Frozen ground somewhere in Sweden, motivated opposition, its a potential minefield for us.

sambo
sambo

We got to a final and that team was definitely pedigree for any success in the game and that reflects with their vast honours

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

Really simple fact santori : we have won TWO European trophies, not one….and in those days the other trophies weren’t second rate. UEFA’s obsession with the CL in the last decades has seen that become the case but it wasn’t always that way.

Lula
Lula

I never want us to perform badly but if it all comes crashing down at least Wenger will have no place to hide and nothing else to do but resign. You can’t help but feel no matter how forlorn he will clutch for any straw. I’m indifferent to this game and it makes me really angry with him. Hoping for the best, indifferent if we fail.