Graham Potter issues surprise response to Pep Guardiola's glowing praise ahead of Southampton

If Graham Potter's confidence was low after consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City, it was perhaps lifted slightly by the glowing praise received from Pep Guardiola last Saturday.

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter with Man City manager Pep Guardiola
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter with Man City manager Pep Guardiola

Potter and his men really suffered in the second half against an excellent City team during their 5-0 loss and must recover quickly to face an in-form Southampton on Thursday.

Albion have three matches remaining and victory at St Mary's could secure their Premier League status.

That would represent a successful first season in the top flight for Potter, who agreed a new long-term contract until 2025 last November after just 13 matches in charge.

The former Ostersund and Swansea manager has implemented a new playing style and introduced youngsters Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate into the first team setup.

His new signings Adam Webster, Neal Maupay, Leandro Trossard and Tariq Lamptey are also bedding in nicely following their first experiences of top flight football.

Potter's style hasn't pleased all Albion fans though. The football can be easy on the eye but some feel the insistence to play out from the back makes the team vulnerable - despite Albion having a better defensive record than last season.

Guardiola is however a Potter fan and said he is one of the best English managers he has met since he arrived in the Premier League from Bayern Munich back in 2016.

The Spaniard added that Potter plays "seductive football" and Albion's future under their forward-thinking head coach will be bright as long as the club back him.

"It goes to show, football can have people saying nice and not so nice things," said Potter when asked about the City manager's glowing praise.

"That's the beauty of football, full of opinions. Pep is someone I respect a lot, he knows football and this job.

"It's nice to hear what he said, but in terms of my job, I focus on this club and achieving our goal of carrying on in Premier League.

"We spoke before the game and we spoke after the game. It was just a normal chat really and things about the season.

"There will be people out there and Brighton supporters that will be saying the opposite. That is the beauty of opinions.

"I'm not in the job to get external confirmation about anything. I'm here to try and do the best I can and help the club improve."

The improvement needs to begin against Potter's former club Southampton, where he made eight appearances in the 1996/97 season.

Despite morale-sapping defeats against Liverpool and Man City, Albion's recent away recorded is decent. They are unbeaten in their last five, including three clean sheets and have every reason to go to Southampton with confidence.

"We need to play well," Potter added. "We need to be balanced well as a team and the balance between defence and attack has to be good.

"We have to understand that we have to fight for points, we’re still in that place where we need to keep going until we are secure.

"As I’ve said before you can second guess and start to predict and think too much and we are not good enough to do that.

"We have to just focus on the game, focus on what we need to do to play against a really good team, a team I like a lot."

"They’ve done really well, the last few games they’ve been really good from lockdown."

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