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Four candidates to become the next Brighton manager

Julien Stephan is a 25/1 outsider for Brighton
Julien Stephan is a 25/1 outsider for Brighton

Graham has Pottered off to Chelsea, taking with him some key personnel, leaving significant gaps in the coaching circles at Brighton.

Andrew Crofts has remained at the Amex and subsequently been placed in interim charge, supported by Shannon Ruth, Nick Stanley, Adam Lallana and Jack Stern. 

It's a temporary solution whilst fast-starting Brighton search for a suitable replacement for Potter, of which there are an assortment of options, something that's been confirmed by the club's chief executive Paul Barber.

We've picked out four differing candidates below - looking at why they might/might not be appointed - while you can follow the link to read more on why Gab Sutton thinks Nathan Jones could get the Brighton job.

Favourite: Kjetil Knutsen

Why?
Kjetil Knutsen’s profile has rocketed over the last year thanks to stand-out displays in European competition: he masterminded a spectacular 6-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Roma, plus home-and-away triumphs against Ange Postecoglou's Celtic. As a coach Knutsen helped propel Bodo/Glimt into the Norwegian top-flight, then as manager he went on to deliver the club the first two league titles in their history, complete with a high intensity, possession-based style of play. Like Potter, he’s had to adjust and evolve from the frequent departure of his top players. 

Currently the 9/4 favourite with Paddy Power, it would be fascinating to see his methods in action in the Premier League.

Why not?
Knutsen has been linked with a move to both England and Scotland before, but his head has yet to turn. Bodo/Glimt are now in the Europa League where they’ve been placed in an exciting group alongside Arsenal, FC Zurich, and PSV - drawing away to the latter last week. With big games on the horizon it might prove difficult to tempt him away at this time. Meanwhile, he's never worked outside of Norway and still has over two years left to run on his current contract at Bodo/Glimt.

Left-Field: Roberto De Zerbi

Why?
Roberto De Zerbi (4/1) made a name for himself in his homeland, Italy, with Sassuolo where he implemented an inventive, attack-minded, and adventurous brand of football. His technical and tactical approach to the game stood out in a league blessed with high-calibre coaches. Like Potter, the 43-year-old has put in the hard yards and overachieved in securing a top-half finish (8th, twice), beating many of the league’s big dogs along the way. 

De Zerbi then took charge of Shakhtar Donetsk in May 2021, where he won the Super Cup and led the way in the league until it was terminated due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He left by mutual consent shortly after - with a 66.67% win rate - and is now looking for his next job.

Why not?
Despite the success of his last two jobs, some Brighton fans may not be overly familiar with Roberto De Zerbi, although this shouldn't count against him. Like Knutsen, he’s not yet been tested in English football and may need time and patience for his blueprint to reap rewards.

EFL Option: Russell Martin

Why?
It's not often a Premier League club recruits from the Championship, but Brighton are one of the rare recent examples to look to the EFL's top league when naming a new manager, as they did with Potter from Swansea. Could they repeat the feat in regards to his replacement...Luton's Nathan Jones has been linked but what about Russell Martin (10/1) at the Swans?

Martin is an intelligent and ambitious young boss who has a clear vision of how the game should be played. He's yet to set the division alight in terms of results and standings - 15th last season with Swansea - but he's a coach who has won significant praise for his philosophy - possession-based, patient build-up, developing young players - which has drawn comparisons to Potter.

Why not?
Arguably the riskiest and least likely to be appointed of the names featured in this list. Brighton are operating at a different level to the one they were at when Potter was appointed. A top-10 standing - and potential European place - are now the aim, meaning they are likely to opt for a manager with more experience and standing within the game. Martin has his qualities but may have to wait for an elevation into the Premier League's managerial arena. 

Bright Spark: Julien Stephan

Why?
Back at the start of the year, Strasbourg's Julien Stephan featured in our Five Managers Catching the Eye series - read in full below - which looked at European bosses that were exceeding expectations. In his first season Stephan took a side that had just avoided relegation into contention for a Champions League spot, before settling for a still very impressive 6th - their highest standing in over 30 years - with his side praised for their cohesiveness and attacking style.

One of the bright beacons in French management, Stephan previously fired first club Rennes to cup glory over PSG, 3rd in the league, and into the Champions League; developing some now well-known starlets along the way, including Edouard Mendy, Raphinha and Eduardo Camavinga. 

Like Potter at Brighton, Stephan transformed both Rennes and current club Strasbourg while he's well accustomed to the 3-5-2 formation. At 25/1 he represents an attractive outsider in the market.

Why not?
Stephan has done a simply incredible job at Strasbourg so far, although at the time of writing his side may be showing signs of a hangover from the previous campaign, having failed to win any of their opening seven games (D5, L2) and have yet to score more than once in a match. This could make him a harder sell to fans, especially given Brighton's bright start.

Five Managers Catching the Eye: Julien Stephan at RC Strasbourg
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