Graham Potter has sent a lengthy open letter to Brighton & Hove Albion fans thanking them for their support during his tenure at the club.
Potter was announced as the new Chelsea manager this week, signing a five-year deal and replacing the recently sacked Thomas Tuchel at the club.
The former Brighton boss is Todd Boehly’s first managerial appointment as Chelsea owner.
In an open letter published on Brighton’s official website, Potter admitted that he understands that his swift exit may be difficult for fans to accept. Potter has left Brighton just six games in the Premier League season and immediately after the transfer window shut.
Here is Potter’s open letter in full:
“This has been three wonderful years with a club that has changed my life, and I want to take a moment to say goodbye to all of you who have made it such a special period of my career.
“I bid farewell to a great club and one that will always mean so much to me and my family. For some I recognise that the change that comes so suddenly in football can be hard to accept. I may not be able to persuade you all to forgive my departure – but I would at least like to take the chance to say thank you.
“All good clubs need great owners and great fans. Brighton & Hove Albion have both. I will cherish the relationships I built in all aspects of the club. My players went above and beyond. My staff gave everything. At the heart of it were the Albion fans. On every matchday at the Amex, the connection with the team was strong. When we played away you came in your thousands to roar us on. I know what you have been through to see your club finally in a modern stadium and thriving in the Premier League. I felt it every time I stood on the touchline.
“To those of you who stopped to chat when I was in the city or further afield – and the many who wrote to me – all those connections meant a great deal. Your personal stories of following the club – of parents and grandparents who were fans – helped me to understand what makes Albion special.
“I hope that you will understand that at this stage of my career, I felt I had to grasp a new opportunity.
“I would like to thank Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and the directors for the opportunity they gave me three years ago and then the unswerving support that came with it. My gratitude also to Dan Ashworth and David Weir, two first-class technical directors. To the staff at both the stadium and the training ground: all of you have impressed me with the pride you have taken in your work. You supported the club and you also supported me through some tough times in my personal life.
“Brighton & Hove Albion is a club full of good people who work together in the right way to accomplish things.
“We have shared some brilliant moments. The 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in my first season stands out. So too, the 2-1 win over Arsenal after lockdown. It was an amazing afternoon, especially given what many had gone through in the preceding months. My only wish was that our supporters had been there to enjoy that with us.
“When the stadiums were partially-opened we experienced an incredible atmosphere for the 3-2 win over Manchester City in the final home game of the 2020/21 season. I know many of you enjoyed the 4-0 win over Manchester United last season. We finished that season with a 3-1 win over West Ham on the final day to seal a record points tally for the club and a highest-ever league position. These are great memories.
“The Albion has given me that and more. I feel I am a better person and a better manager for the experiences I have had here. Not every team selection or decision has been perfect. But the club has created an environment that gives you the scope to make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. I have always tried to act with integrity and be a good person. These are values I hold dear, and I know that the Albion do too.
“What turned out to be my final match against Leicester City last Sunday was a good way to end. I did not know at the time that it would be the end, but looking back now we played so well. There was so much positivity around the club. The last few days have been an unexpected whirlwind. Leaving the training ground for the last time was a poignant moment. Not only for me, but also for Billy, Bjorn, Kyle, Bruno and Ben.
“Albion fans know that with Tony, Paul and David the club is in safe hands. To my successor, whoever that may be, I would say, congratulations. You’ll be working for a great club with a fantastic squad, supported by a great chairman and board. The squad are playing at a high level and will get better. Most of all, the supporters will get behind the team home and away.
“To everyone at Brighton & Hove Albion: thank you. It has been a pleasure and honour to serve the club over the last three years. I wish you every success going forward.”
Newcastle set to finalise deal for Garang Kuol
Australia international Garang Kuol is set to finalise a move to Newcastle United, sources have told 90min.
90min revealed earlier this month that Newcastle were in talks with his club Central Coast Mariners, and now a deal is understood to be in place with Eddie Howe’s side seeing off competition from various clubs, including German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Newcastle were waiting for Kuol to complete his international duty with Australia this month before finalising the deal. The 18-year-old made his debut against New Zealand on Sunday and is now believed to be heading to Europe.
Kuol and his camp have already agreed terms with Newcastle ahead of a move that would be finalised in January – at which point the Magpies will decide on what to do with him in the short-term.
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As it stands, Kuol would not qualify for a work permit, but that matter could change quickly if he is involved at the World Cup finals. This won’t be known until manager Graham Arnold names his squad in a few weeks.
Newcastle are understood to already have a plan in place to send Kuol on loan to another league in Europe – the length of which will be determined by his work permit standing.
Chelsea vs West Ham – WSL preview: TV channel, live stream, team news & prediction
Chelsea face West Ham at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday evening in the first of the rearranged fixtures from the WSL’s postponed opening weekend.
WSL champions Chelsea chalked up their first points of the season on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Manchester City, having been surprisingly beaten the previous week at Liverpool.
It’s also one win and one defeat thus far for West Ham as the Hammers continue to find their feet under new boss Paul Konchesky.
When is kick off? Wednesday 28 September, 19:05 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel/livestream? BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website
What time does coverage start? 19:00 (BST)
Referee? Tom Reeves
Pernille Harder remains a doubt, having sat out Chelsea’s opening two WSL matches with a hamstring injury – although she did return to the grass on Friday.
Hayes opted to play two defensively minded fullbacks in Magdalena Eriksson and Maren Mjelde on Sunday to deal with Manchester City’s strong wide threat, and could change it up once more on Wednesday.
Paul Konchesky has named an unchanged side in his first two competitive matches as West Ham boss, and could make it three from three against Chelsea.
Chelsea: Berger; Buchanan, Bright, Eriksson; Charles, Cuthbert, Fleming, Reiten; James, Kerr, Kirby.
West Ham: Arnold; Shimizu, Parker, Cissoko, Smith; Longhurst, Brynjarsdottir; Evans, Hayashi, Ziu; Asseyi.
Having bounced back from their opening day disappointment, Chelsea will be expected to continue their winning run against West Ham.
Lauren James and Fran Kirby look back after injury and illness disrupted their 2021/22 campaigns, and form a frightening forward line with Sam Kerr. They should have too much for Konchesky’s still evolving West Ham side.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 West Ham
Man Utd already showing key signs of improvement after flying WSL start
Manchester United fell short in their efforts to finish in the WSL top three last season because too often they were unable to kill games off.
Marc Skinner’s side were five points adrift of third place in the final standings, narrowly costing the club a place in the Champions League for the second season running.
Late equalisers in the final 15 minutes of games against Everton, Tottenham, West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester City cost United 10 points from winning positions. In those games, Arsenal and City had been reduced to 10 players, while Tottenham and West Ham equalised in stoppage time.
On top of that, United also failed to break down a resilient Aston Villa in the closing stages of the season, drawing 0-0 in a game they were heavy favourites to win.
Throughout the second half of last season, Skinner was very up front about the need to recruit well during the summer to ensure United always had sufficient attacking options and depth to successfully kill games off or beat compact defences and low blocks.
Two games into 2022/23 and the signs of improvement in those key areas are clear to see. So far, United have blown Reading away in the first 35 minutes of a game and beaten West Ham by two goals in a fixture that also served to exorcise some demons from last season.
Last season away at West Ham, United went ahead early in the second half but couldn’t build on that lead and it left them exposed to then conceding in the dying moments.
This time, Lucia Garcia’s clinical opener that saw the new arrival from Spain round the goalkeeper and impressively finish from a narrow angle was almost immediately added to by Hannah Blundell, who calmly guided the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
That was the critical thing that United didn’t do enough last season when it really mattered.
Garcia in particular has characterised the way United have got better since last season in that respect, providing a different kind of vital skillset to other players in the squad.
“She’s wonderful. She attacks lines,” Skinner told club media after Sunday’s win – United’s first away day victory in London since beating West Ham in October 2020.
“Just the tenacity to get beyond [Hawa] Cissoko, who is a very tough defender, and then take it round the goalkeeper, then finish. She’s just so nimble, she’s unbelievable.”
As Skinner put his own stamp on the squad, United let Ivana Fuso join Bayer Leverkusen on loan and Kirsty Hanson head to Aston Villa, but brought in Garcia as well as veteran number nine Rachel Williams, Canadian winger Adriana Leon and wide forward Nikita Parris.
“If we face a deep block, we’ve got to have a different way of overcoming it, or a different way of strategizing against a counter attack to the win game. All of my forwards are important,” the United boss said just last week.
It all formed part of a specific strategy aimed at getting United into the Champions League.
Skinner and his team will face tougher opposition this season than they have played so far. But it has been the perfect start that provides a solid foundation and momentum for what will come.
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