Potter and the pioneer

28th August
First team

Two months on from becoming Swansea City manager, Graham Potter’s success in Sweden is a well-told story.

Tonight he comes up against a “pioneer” who took the same Scandinavian route 42 years ago.

Potter’s remarkable rise from the fourth tier to the top flight of Swedish football with Ostersund caught the eye back in his homeland.

Add to that league success a Swedish Cup win and a Europa League campaign which included victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and it is easy to see why Potter's work was noticed.

This evening he meets a man who trod a similar path, as Roy Hodgson brings his Crystal Palace side to the Liberty in the Carabao Cup.

Hodgson has enjoyed a fine career in management, lifting 13 titles and working in eight different countries at domestic and international level, with the top jobs at Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Finland and England included on his CV.

Sweden, though, was the first destination.

“He is hugely influential in Swedish football, let alone Malmo and Halmstad,” said Potter, who spent the past seven years learning his trade at Ostersund.

“Every time he goes back there he has hero status and rightly so.

“He started his managerial career there and achieved fantastic things. He put things in place which are still there now in Swedish football, such as the way they organise defences and structure teams.

“He was a pioneer for Swedish football.”

Hodgson took his first steps in management in 1976 after hanging up his boots at the end of a career which saw him play for a handful of non-league clubs.

He took the job at Halmstad after being recommended by Bob Houghton, a former team-mate and then manager of Malmo.

Two titles in five years saw Hodgson return to England for a brief spell at Bristol City before heading back to Sweden for stints at Oddevold and Orebro.

Five Swedish league championships and two cup successes followed, with Hodgson becoming a legendary figure at Malmo. Supporters would unofficially name a section of the Stadion "Roy's Hörna" (Roy's Corner).

His time in Sweden ended in 1989, with Neuchâtel Xamax of Switzerland his next destination. He would later manage Italian heavyweights Inter Milan and Udinese, along with Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, West Brom and his boyhood club Palace.

But his legacy has never been forgotten in Sweden.

Exactly a week on from pitting his wits against the hugely experienced Marcelo Bielsa, Potter will tonight add Hodgson to his list of esteemed opponents.

And he is looking forward to catching up with the Eagles boss, born and bred in Croydon, after tonight’s cup clash in SA1.

“I’ve not met Roy before but I’m looking forward to speaking to him about his time in Sweden,” added Potter.

“From a young coach’s perspective, he is someone to look up to because he’s had a broad experience of managing abroad and at international level.

“He’s a great football man and he’s gone about it in a different way to most.

“Having started my career in Sweden like Roy did, if I can achieve anywhere near what he has then I’ll be a very satisfied manager.”