Roberto De Zerbi: Embracing Potential over Experience


When it comes to selecting a manager for a football club or a company, conventional wisdom often suggests hiring someone with extensive experience in the role. However, there are instances where a different approach can yield remarkable results. Roberto De Zerbi, the manager of Brighton & Hove Albion FC, is a shining example of the positive impact that hiring for potential rather than experience can have. In this blog, we will explore De Zerbi’s journey and why embracing potential can be a game changer for your company.

The Rise of Roberto De Zerbi

Roberto De Zerbi’s story is one of determination and continuous growth. Unlike many seasoned managers who have spent years in top-flight football, De Zerbi had a relatively modest playing career and transitioned into coaching at a young age. He gained experience coaching in lower divisions before making waves in the Italian Serie A with Sassuolo, where he implemented an attacking and possession-based style of play that caught the attention of many.

Brighton FC’s Bold Decision

In 2022, Brighton FC, known recently for their progressive and forward-thinking approach, made the bold decision to hire Roberto De Zerbi as their manager. This move was surprising to some, as De Zerbi had limited experience managing in top-flight leagues and none within the English Footballing Pyramid. However, Brighton’s decision was based on recognising De Zerbi’s potential to bring a fresh perspective and innovative tactics to the club.

What to Look For

1.Look Beyond Experience

When evaluating potential candidates for your company, it’s essential to consider their potential for growth and development. Don’t solely focus on their past experience or qualifications. Look for individuals who possess a strong desire to learn, adapt, and innovate within their roles. Candidates with a growth mindset are more likely to bring fresh perspectives and contribute to the ongoing success of your organisation.

2.Assess Transferable Skills and Abilities

Rather than placing excessive emphasis on industry-specific experience, pay attention to the transferable skills and abilities a candidate possesses. Look for qualities such as adaptability, problem-solving, effective communication, leadership potential, and a willingness to take on new challenges. These attributes indicate a candidate’s potential to excel in different contexts and contribute to your company’s growth.

3.Prioritise Cultural Fit and Values Alignment

When hiring for potential, it’s crucial to assess a candidate’s alignment with your company’s culture and values. Look for individuals who not only possess the skills and potential to excel but also demonstrate a strong fit with your organisation’s mission, vision, and core values. This alignment fosters a sense of belonging and commitment, promoting a harmonious and productive work environment.

The Power of Potential

Hiring for potential can bring several benefits to a company. Here are a few reasons why it can have a positive impact:

1.Fresh Ideas and Innovative Methods: Managers with limited experience often bring fresh ideas and new approaches to business. Without being bound by traditional methods, they are more likely to experiment and introduce innovative methods.

2.Adaptability and Learning Mindset: Managers hired for potential often possess a strong desire to learn and adapt. They are not burdened by preconceived notions or entrenched habits and are more open to evolving their strategies based on their team’s strengths, weaknesses, and evolving trends in their industry.

3.Motivation and Hunger for Success: Managers who are given the opportunity to prove themselves despite limited experience tend to possess a hunger for success. They have a point to prove and are highly motivated to make the most of the opportunity, driving them to work harder and push their team to new heights.

The Impact on Brighton:

Under De Zerbi’s guidance, Brighton has experienced a remarkable transformation. His tactical approach emphasises fluid attacking football, focusing on ball retention, quick transitions, and aggressive pressing. This style of play has not only excited the fans but has also yielded positive results on the pitch, with Brighton FC climbing up the league standings and qualifying for Europe for the first time in their history.

Building a Culture of Trust and Development

Hiring for potential also fosters a culture of trust and development within a company. When a manager is given the opportunity to grow and prove themselves, it sends a powerful message to the employees that the club values their potential and is committed to nurturing their talent. This, in turn, motivates them to give their best and work cohesively as a team.


The appointment of Roberto De Zerbi as Brighton’s manager highlights the immense potential that can be unlocked when hiring for potential rather than solely focusing on experience. By embracing a manager with limited top-flight experience, Brighton has not only reaped the benefits of fresh ideas, innovative tactics, and a motivated leader but has also fostered a culture of trust and development within the club. This serves as a reminder that sometimes taking a chance on potential can lead to extraordinary success.

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