September marks 10 years since I arrived on these shores as a fresh-faced student who was determined to make it to the top. That was the only way to justify my mother’s heartbreak at leaving the homeland and my sisters’ delight at being able to have a room to themselves.
My secondary school yearbook asked where I saw myself in 10 years time and my answer declared I would be leading the Irish national team to the 2022 World Cup or have a weekly column in the Irish Independent. I’m going to tell you why leading Montpelier Villa Women and writing for the West Hill Whistler is better (Quite right: Ed) and why Graham Potter is wrong to go to Chelsea (Also quite right: Ed).
I understand why Potter has gone. I understand that his career has been a series of calculated gambles both on his part and on the clubs that employed him, including his first club Östersund who played in the Swedish fourth tier who took a risk on someone who at the time was just the coach of a university football team. I understand that Potter may feel that this is justification for his seven years in Sweden and traveling to the Women’s World Cup in China in 2007. Not that either of these are something to be endured, but rather this isn’t the conventional route to one of the biggest jobs in English football and it’s hard not to be disappointed by Potter finally choosing the path expected of him.
I won’t be the first to describe Potter as unconventional and most will be aware of him getting his players in Sweden to perform Swan Lake and his influence or rather his reasoning of taking players out of their comfort zone reached Montpelier Villa as our players endured American football, Gaelic football, rugby and netball all to take them out of their comfort zone or in other words – make them uncomfortable.
This September, Montpelier Villa will host the FA Cup for the first time ever and this will be the highlight of the season for many, the ability to say you competed in the same competition as some of the biggest names in the game. It won’t surprise you that my ambition for our team is to play just one match at Wembley Stadium and fortunately we find ourselves in a competition that means we are just ten wins away from that goal.
What I don’t understand is this move being explained as Potter being ambitious. Potter has joined a team with infinitely more resources and expectations, but he has left one of the few clubs that has slowly and sustainably built an infrastructure that can challenge the elite.
At this point, it’s important to rule myself out of the vacant position at Brighton and it’s not for lack of ambition. It’s because I’m too ambitious. Football in my opinion is the greatest leveller and no matter the resources that any club has, no matter the perceived quality of the players on each team, if you are on the same pitch then you are in the best possible position to beat them – whoever they are.
Potter had all the tools available at Brighton to make the city and region a footballing hotbed akin to Barcelona or Amsterdam. I would find it hard to justify walking away from that for the chance to coach in the Champions League for a team that won it as recently as 2021. Potter was on course to bring that competition to Falmer albeit only after six games and I believe the latter would have been a far greater achievement.
I wholeheartedly believe that Montpelier Villa will walk out at Wembley on May 14th next year and I’ve been called enthusiastic, deluded, silly and stupid and I could go on but I know how great our team is, I know some of the sacrifices they make to play for us and the resilience they have, I know this football team has given me a reason to be proud of our little corner of Brighton whilst also paying homage to where I came from (Villa wear the same colours as my childhood team – Railway Athletic)
I know it’s going to be difficult to win the FA Cup, but until we’re knocked out, we can. I don’t blame Potter for moving to Chelsea for any number of reasons but I am disappointed that his ambition could not see the potential in Brighton. As for my own ambition and where I see myself in the year 2032? Coaching Montpelier Villa women and writing for the Whistler? I told you I was ambitious.