By Gareth James
New Swansea City manager Russell Martin has revealed he sounded out former boss Graham Potter before deciding to move to the Liberty Stadium.
Martin has been appointed Swansea’s new head coach on a three-year deal, but needed to gain a positive reference for the club from Brighton manager Potter, who was in charge at the Swans before recently departed head coach Steve Cooper.
“I spoke to Graham, and he spoke so highly of the club, of the people and of the area,” said Martin, who has moved from MK Dons.
“He spoke about his connection with the fans and the staff who worked here.
“My mind was already made up to come here, but to hear that was nice and reassuring and gave me a lot of confidence that this is the right place to move forward and progress.
“I am looking forward to hopefully giving the fans a team they feel really connected with, that is strong in the Swansea Way, because there is no doubt the supporters and club are connected to a certain way of doing things.
“I am looking forward to giving them a team that excites them, that they enjoy. I want to watch our team from the side of the pitch and enjoy it, otherwise what’s the point?
“I don’t want to be involved anything that I don’t enjoy, and that includes watching our own team.
“I want to give the fans a team they can be proud of and identify with. A team that looks the same everywhere we go, be it at the Liberty Stadium or away from home. It will be a team that gives them everything they have got.”
The former Scotland international moves to the Liberty Stadium from MK Dons, despite initially having reservations about the Swans’ approach.
The Swans refused to give up and will pay around £400,000 compensation for Martin, who replaces Cooper and will be joined by Luke Williams, Matt Gill and Dean Thornton from his coaching staff in Milton Keynes.
Former Swansea defender Alan Tate will remain in his role as first-team coach having led the team in recent weeks.
“I have spoken to Tatey, we have mutual friends within the game. We played in the same era and played against each other a lot,” Martin told the club’s website.
“He is a club legend, he is one of many and one of the pulls of this club is how they treat their ex-players.
“You look at players like Leon Britton, Alan Curtis and Lee Trundle and they are all still part of the fabric and culture of the club.
“It’s a family club, the people that work here support the club and that connection is really strong and Tatey is one of those guys.
“It will take time for the dynamic to work out and for everything to fit together, but I am looking forward to working with him, and I hope he will enjoy working with us as well.”
Swansea chief executive Julian Winter said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Russell as our new head coach.
“He very much fits the profile of a young and hungry coach who wants to succeed. After earning plaudits with Milton Keynes Dons for the attractive, attacking style that he implemented, we quickly realised Russell would be the right person to take us forward.
“He captained Peterborough and Norwich as well as winning promotion on five separate occasions [as a player], which tells you everything about his leadership qualities and winning mentality.”
Martin was appointed at Stadium MK in November 2019 and guided the club away from relegation danger in his first season.
Last season the Dons finished 13th in League One and only Manchester City and Barcelona had a higher possession percentage in Europe.
Swansea made an official approach for Martin on Friday, a day before the Dons’ first game of the season which angered the League One club. They lost 5-0 against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup first round, Martin’s final game in charge.
A Dons statement on Saturday read: “MK Dons can confirm that an official approach has been made by Swansea City to speak to Russell Martin regarding their vacant managerial position.
“To our extreme disappointment, this was received less than 24 hours prior to our first competitive fixture of the season. To minimise disruption to our players and our match preparation, it was decided that this would be discussed after today’s game.”
The former Chelsea No 2 Jody Morris had been a contender for the Swansea job while the Queens Park Rangers assistant John Eustace looked poised to take control but opted to stay at QPR after holding talks with the Swans.