England vs Sweden: Swansea boss reveals how Swedes have replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Football | Sport

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Potter played for England at Under-21 level and spent seven years managing Ostersunds in Sweden before making the move to Championship club Swansea this summer.

The 43-year-old’s children were all born in Sweden and he has brought most of his coaching team with him to Wales, including Swedish assistant Bjorn Hamberg.

His back-room staff also includes two Scots in Billy Reid and Kyle McCauley and a Welshman in Alan Curtis. England aren’t flavour of the month among that trio.

“My kids were born in Sweden, I lived there for the last seven years, but I am going to root for England even though I don’t know how many of my staff will be,” Potter said.

“I’ve got to back England, but it will be close. A World Cup quarter-final is never straightforward. The one thing this World Cup has done so far is produce tight games and unexpected results.”

Potter excelled in his long spell with Ostersunds, leading them through the Swedish divisions, and he is well qualified to comment on the next opponents for Southgate’s team.

“Before they went to the tournament there was a lot of negativity around the team in Sweden. They were booed in their last couple of games – that’s the fickle nature of football,” said Potter.

“I had a Swedish friend who had money on them not scoring a goal in the tournament. There wasn’t a lot of belief in the team, but they have grown and grown and grown.

“They are what they are – well organised with a great team ethic. The coach plays to the strengths of the players and if you underestimate them then you are in trouble. The England players will be aware of that and they will be prepared.

“Janne Anderson has done fantastically well to fill Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shoes with a collective unit and one that knows exactly what it is doing. Defensively they are very sound and organised with an idea about how they want to attack.

“Any football team has areas where they are weaker and it is going to be a fascinating game between two teams with different styles.

“I am an Englishman, but I have spent the last seven years living in Sweden and I understand their culture and football culture.”

England edged past Sweden 3-2 at Euro 2012 but have often struggled against the Scandinavians. Potter believes Sweden will relish the underdog role again.

“The Swedes are really proud at what they’ve done in Russia,” he said. “Nobody will expect them to go through, so they will just enjoy it.

“They qualified with two clean sheets against Italy and finished above Holland. Collectively as a unit they are very strong and organised and they sacrifice themselves in a big way.

“They play at a good level and in a knock-out competition after the group stages it becomes a psychological affair. When you are playing the underdog role, that can be beneficial.

“Sweden are not a team for the purists, defensively they don’t rely on possession to win matches.”

Potter still believes the presence of inspirational boss Southgate can get England over the line.

“It is incredible what Gareth has done,” he said. “There were questions marks over his selection for the Belgium game, but he has made the right calls. How he has conducted himself as a person is an absolute example for us all.

“I am very proud to have him as the England coach – not proud enough, though, to wear a waistcoat on the touchline at Swansea next season. I don’t think I could pull that off!”



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