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Poyet's Brighton look rock solid

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Paul Fletcher | 11:51 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

At the Withdean Stadium.

Brighton and Hove Albion have not played in the top flight of English football since 1983 but the Seagulls look in excellent shape to make a long-term push for the Premier League.

The suggestion might seem like a knee-jerk reaction to their great start to the current season but the club appear to have all the necessary ingredients for success.

They are eight points clear at the top of the League One table, possess an excellent young manager on a long-term contract in 42-year-old Gus Poyet and will end 14 years of nomadic existence when they move into their new 22,500-capacity stadium at Falmer next season. And with no other Football League club in Sussex, they also have a large catchment area.

Brighton manager Gus Poyet.

Poyet was appointed manager of Brighton on 10 November 2009. Photo: Getty Images

Tuesday marked the final league game of Poyet's first year in charge and the impact he has made on the Seagulls squad was clear to see.

Brighton defeated Exeter 3-0, wearing down their opponents with a high-tempo brand of passing football that was as easy on the eye as it was dangerously effective.

Poyet likes to play with a back four but full-backs Marcos Painter and Inigo Calderon spent more time attacking than defending, which allowed Elliott Bennett to drift inside from right midfield without his side losing their shape. The Seagulls were content to pass the ball around in deep areas until space opened up in front of them but when it did they struck with speed of thought and execution.

Tuesday's result means that Brighton have scored 12 unanswered goals in their last four fixtures to open daylight at the top of the table.

"Since I came here with assistant manager Mauricio Taricco, we have worked really hard to get to the point where we are now, to prove that our way works," said Poyet, who took the helm of a club in the lower reaches of the table when he replaced Russell Slade last year.

"We need to prove that for 46 games - and that is more difficult - but the important thing is that we believe in this way."

Not everyone is completely happy. Some frustrated fans called for Albion to "launch it" during the 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth in early October. Poyet showed a steely resolve by suggesting after the match that if supporters wanted a change of style when their club are top of the league then they will need to find a new manager.

But, generally speaking, his first 12 months at the helm have been met with widespread approval. I canvassed the opinion of fans in a 606 thread and thought a comment from nathanjonesleftsock was particularly telling. He said: "On the way back from the 3-0 win at Peterborough on Saturday my dad claimed this is the best Albion side he has ever seen football-wise in 40-odd years of following the club."

Poyet, who was previously assistant manager to Dennis Wise at Swindon and Leeds as well as to Juande Ramos at Tottenham, has attempted to enforce the same style of play at every level of the club.

"The four-year contract signed in the summer has given me the chance to look at the situation in a different way," added Poyet, who initially arrived on an 18-month deal.

"I can plan for the future. It is not like I only care about the first team - I care about everything. We are Brighton and we have got an identity about the way we play."

He has introduced a development squad to bridge the gap between the youth team and the first team. Training sessions with the senior squad are short - generally between 75 and 90 minutes - but extremely intense. The former Chelsea and Spurs midfielder has also remodelled the scouting network and brought in a full-time video analyst.

Reflecting on his first year in charge, Poyet said: "The key for me is that the players now understand and make decisions influenced by the way we want to play. They are convinced now it is the right way for us."

Poyet, nicknamed Radio at Real Zaragoza because he never stopped talking, is an extremely likeable man, with an engaging and charismatic personality. Online subscriptions to the Seagulls' post-match video interviews have apparently gone through the roof since he took over, while I thought that it was to his huge credit that he took time out to chat at length to some media students after Tuesday's fixture.

Yet it would be a mistake to think that he is a soft touch, possibly lacking the ruthless streak necessary to succeed in management. Despite watching his team play Exeter off the park, he said that his players needed to be more clinical in front of goal.

And he showed that he will not be undermined when a contract dispute developed with striker Nicky Forster last season. The 37-year-old frontman went public with his frustration and was swiftly dropped. He finished the season on loan to Charlton.

Poyet never won a league title during his playing career but said it would be "perfection" if the Seagulls did so this season so that Falmer would host Championship football when it opened for the 2011-12 campaign.

The new stadium at Falmer is currently being built.

Construction at Falmer is at an advanced stage. Photo: Brighton & Hove Albion

Earlier on Tuesday, I had a look at the new ground. It brought to mind a cross between the Reebok Stadium at Bolton and a smaller version of Wembley minus the arch.

The design might not be staggeringly original - falling roughly in line with plenty of modern English grounds - but it was nonetheless impressive, framed by the rolling hills of the South Downs. And to supporters of Brighton, who have been without a permanent home since the Goldstone Ground was sold in 1997, it must seem like the most beautiful building in the world.

The ground, which will be called the Amex Stadium, will hold an initial 22,500, with the potential to add another tier to the East Stand. The club have already sold almost 2,500 corporate seats and are hopeful that season tickets will triple from their current figure of 5,000.

The contrast with their home at the Withdean Stadium, an athletics venue where Brighton have played since 1999, could not be more stark. Most of the stands at the Withdean are temporary; all are separated from the pitch by a running track, while the away end is a good 50 metres behind a goal. Leaving for Falmer will be like moving from darkness into light.

The £93m construction cost has been funded almost entirely by chairman Tony Bloom, a lifelong fan of Albion. His grandfather, Harry, was the club's vice-chairman who played a key role in bringing Brian Clough and Peter Taylor to the Seagulls back in 1973.

Bloom is perhaps best known as a poker player nicknamed the Lizard after one opponent suggested he was so cool under pressure that he must have alligator blood. But he is a hard-headed businessman with a big property portfolio, although he says his investment in the south-coast outfit was made with his heart rather than his head. For Brighton fans, his decision must rate as a huge slice of good fortune.

In addition to his funding of the stadium, it was his decision to appoint Poyet. It was arguably a gamble at the time but it is starting to look like a very shrewd move.

I am told that some Brighton fans have started to wonder how long they can keep Poyet before he is snapped up by a bigger club. But he still has much to prove and on Tuesday was talking about a long-term commitment to his current employer.

"A manager like Jose Mourinho might be trying to win league titles in many different countries," said Poyet. "But for most managers, when everything is working well at a club then the dream is to remain there for many, many years. Why not?"

After years of short-term planning and scrambling for survival, it finally seems as though the Seagulls are ready to take off.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Poyet has jumped ship everywhere he has been. Whats the longest he has been at a club for? Im a Leeds fan, speaking from experience.

    When a Prem club, or Spanish club comes knocking, he will be off.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think he jumped the Leeds 'sinking' ship Phil.

    I think Gus is here for te long haul, although he must be tempted if a prem team came in for him. I don't think he will go back to Spain, he's practically English now anyway. His son is supposed to be a bit special too [England U16 international] just a shame he's not on the Albion books.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think after the wilderness years for Brighton, what is going on at the moment is absolutely fantastic. When one thinks back to the final day match against Hereford (I believe) and the fans day where fans from all clubs came to support, to think where they are now and where they might be in a years time is amazing.

    I'm a Chelsea fan but due to time and ticket availability issues, I don't get to Stamford Bridge as much as I suppose I would like. However, I live about 5 miles from the new ground, so sign me up for the first home game of next season, and hopefully many more afterwards.

    The local area is full of youngsters that have jumped on the bandwagons of top teams in the absence of anything more local to really get behind. Hopefully Brighton will be able to exploit their catchment area and this will be the start of something really good.

    (p.s. my first visit to the Goldstone was in September 1983, Brighton 1 Chelsea 2. What changes there have been in the last 27 years!)

  • Comment number 4.

    his side plays nice football and completed battered a very good Posh side on Saturday. As we all know every team has a blip in form and it will be interesting to see how Gus and his team cope with that when it happens.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to say I'm delighted to see Poyet doing so well at Brighton. He scored some of the best volleys I've ever seen at Chelsea and Spurs, and has a charisma and likeability about him that is typical of many Uruguayans (where my roots are!)

    I wish B&H Albion every success this season and beyond - the future looks very bright with this wonderful man in charge! :D

  • Comment number 6.

    We're playing great football at the moment. Poyet and Taricco have signed 4 year contracts, and Sir Tony Bloom is not only a committed Albion fan but has put his money behind his promises.

    Of course, we're under no illusions there will be tougher times ahead and the five teams below us at the moment (Huddersfield, Colchester, Peterborough, Charlton and Southampton) will be there or there abouts until the end of the season. But its been a great start and if we can keep Lua Lua for the rest of the season, and possibly add a more clinical striker in January, we should be up there at the end of the season.

    The future also looks great with young Jamie Smith, Lewis Dunk, and Tommy Elphick the future. With Jake Caskey in the youth team (currently England under 17 captain) we have every reason to be positive about the future on the South Coast.

  • Comment number 7.

    Excellent blog Paul as always. By far the best football writer at the BBC.

    Always a warm style and informative, researched articles. Reading about people with less than a hundred grand a week is a breath of fresh air every week. Feels like a return to real football with every read.

    Keep it up.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think Poyet rightly deserves the plaudits for turning Brighton into a really good footballing side. I do think if a Prem team comes in for him, he would probably leave, but who wouldn't?!

    He's clearly planning for the future at Brighton, and if they keep playing as well as they have been, there is no reason why they can't be a serious force in the Championship in the next few years.

  • Comment number 9.

    I couldn't agree with you more MrBlueBurns as my name suggest I'm also a local to them. There is a real buzz around the town and the supporters with what is happening to them this year. Let's hope promotion does happen this year so they can start off in the new stadium in the championship with hopefully sell out crowds.

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 Nick_Hove_Actually

    Don't worry, I'm very familiar with 'Hove actually', the expression. I'm from the other side of Falmer, where we'll be setting the town alight on Friday! :-)

    Anyway, my only worry is that promotion may come a bit too soon. Probably sounds a funny thing to say, however, what if they went up and still largely had League One level players. The increas in income from the larger gates at the Amex Community Stadium (!) wouldn't have come through yet and there is a chance that they might start getting whooped and then crowds might drop away. A year in League One with the gate income from the new stadium would probably help equip them better for life in the Championship.

    Maybe I'm being pessimistic and my pessimism will prove to be unfounded. I certainly hope so! Either way, as I say, I plan to be there next season.

    Come on you Seagulls!

  • Comment number 11.

    Really good blog Paul, it's always good to read a blog that doesn't just focus on the standard fodder of those at the top of the Prem. or who are looking at relegation from the same etc. There is life outside the Prem.
    Poyet is looking very good at Brighton. @ Phil I've seen a lot of managers in recent years have some success at Champ then jump at the first Premier League club that comes in for them, and these are generally desperate clubs without much in the way resources or finances struggling to avoid relegation. This will generally shorten a managers long term career prospects. Poyet's been around the English game now for quite some time as a player and coach and I'm petty sure he's not going to just launch himself at anything that comes along, he seems a more measured character than that.

  • Comment number 12.

    Now then,

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    Interesting suggestion from Phil (post 1) that Poyet will be off when a big boy comes knocking. If a Spurs or a Chelsea came then yes, I reckon he would. But quite honestly I cannot see that happening.

    But a Wigan or a Stoke or Bolton or Blackpool or perhaps even a club of the size of West Ham? I'm not so sure.

    Look at the Premier League now and quite a few sides were in the third tier in recent times. Poyet is at a club that he could well take to the top tier within the four-year contract he signed in the summer. And what sort of statement on his ability would that make?


  • Comment number 13.

    #7 - I agree.
    Great to hear of a side getting success playing attractive football, down in League 1. Brighton are in a strong position but they will be undoubtedly tested, most likely by a dip in form at some point. They do seem realistic in their approach though and it looks like exciting times ahead, for supporters of a club on the way back-up.

    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 14.

    #2 Paul we were top of the league when he jumped our 'sinking ship' having already made up a 15 point deduction. We were totally flying. What was baffling, was that Wise went for a ridiculous role at Newcastle after Poyet upped ship for Spurs a few weeks before.

    I do believe Poyet is a marvelous coach by the way. He was pulling the strings at Leeds and without him Wise was lost, hence he took the Newcastle role.

    Funnily enough, after Wise left and then McAllisters unsuccessful spell, Poyet applied for the managers job, and we told him there was no way, as he had walked out on us once already.

    So this isn't a post doubting his credentials, i think he has done amazingly well in the past and will do in the future. Its about loyalty.

    As i said, show me one place where he's been coaching for more than a year or two! There aren't any!

    And will a 4 year contract mean anything to him? It didn't in every other job he had. I can tell you he was contracted at Leeds for sure! And he left for an assistants job at Spurs, hardly the best offer ever!

    Albion will get promotion this year and could even push for the Prem the year after. They have an incredible support who have stuck with them through thick and thin. My mate at Uni supported them and dragged me along to quite a few games, which i thoroughly enjoyed (well the away ones were good, the Wothdean is blooming horrible!

    But if a team like West Ham do come in for him, i will bet my house that he'd take the job. And with his ability, im sure he'd believe he could push for Europe at such a club, whereas, theres probably only so far you could take Albion - ie mid table of Prem at an absolute push IMHO.

    Anyway, good luck to the Albion, things are finally looking up for you boys!

  • Comment number 15.

    From what I can remember a lot of managers have had a good run with Brighton for them only to have been poached by bigger clubs in a higher division only for them to fail at them. Sometimes it's better to stay at a club and both will improve together.

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 Phil

    There may be an issue with Poyet's loyalty, however, when you take his age into account, I wonder if it's perhaps to early to be definitive.

    I agree the Withdean is horrible. Cold and exposed! But it's better than the Priestfield Road!

    As for where he might go, I don't know off hand what may happen in the future, but, for the sake of fun, say they were in the Premier division and selling out homegames, they wouldn't be the lowest attended club. And that's without a possible expansion.

    One step at a time though. Let's enjoy it and see where it goes.

  • Comment number 17.

    Phil - it is an interesting point you make, backed up by a pretty solid argument. I reckon it is almost impossible to read too much into what somebody - manager or player - says in football because so many times in the past words have been proven to be somewhat hollow.

    However, one big difference is that he is now a manager and not an assistant. What he does at Albion, the mark he makes on the club, the recognition and the building of reputation he does or does not achieve will all be his.


    Certainly, when I spoke to Poyet on Tuesday he was talking long term, possibly very long term. We'll see.

  • Comment number 18.

    Saints fan in peace. Brighton deserve their plaudits given they have easily been the most consistent team in League 1 so far this season. I'm looking forward to Tuesday 23rd November when you guys will be down at St Mary's. Should be a great game between two good sides who like to get the ball down and pass it.

    I can see Saints, Brighton and Huddersfield fighting it out for the top 2 positions come the end of the season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Huddersfield Town fan here....not only have you got our colours, pinching out stadium design and nicking top spot from us.....only joking !!...I am pleased to see Brighton doing so well, after a strong finish last season Poyet has done an amazing job so far. I hope you continue to do well and get 2nd place and automatic promotion...see you at the Galpharm December 11th ???

  • Comment number 20.

    You may well be right Paul, maybe being manager will make him act with more loyalty. Certainly he struck me as a loyal, honest, hard working player.

    As #15 says, its sometimes better to stay put where you are appreciated, than up sticks to a struggling club and try to turn them around.

    With Albion getting a new home, its certainly a more appealing club, and one thats on the up, so as you mentioned at #12 Paul, clubs like Blackpool and Stoke just wouldn't have the pull to lure him away, whereas if Albion were stuck at the Withdean for the next decade, the future wouldnt look so bright.

    Im interested btw, the money that has been put up for the ground, is it in the shape of a loan, or has Tony Bloom donated/invested the money? It seems an awful lot - Leeds went bust when they were in debt less than 100million and had 40,000 crowds, so how will Albion make this money back? Could it cause long term problems? I certainly hope not, and im sure long term planning has gone in. It would be good if Paul or one of the Albion fans could inform me on this.

    Excellent blog btw Paul!

  • Comment number 21.

    #20 Phil

    Firstly, I doubt Brighton will squander so much on wages and transfers as Leeds did!

    Secondly, the Bloom funding is an interest free loan.
    http://www.seagulls.co.uk/page/Latest/0,,10433%7E1661154,00.html

  • Comment number 22.

    Brighton will not win this league. They are yet to have a 'sticky patch' which i feel is coming shortly.

    It will be a MASSIVE game at St Mary's in a few weeks..........

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Saint_Stevo

    Bit negative isn't that? No one has won anything yet, but, with an 8 point cushion, they are better placed than any other team to ride a 'sticky patch'.

    Why do you think this 'sticky patch' is coming shortly? Not just south coast rivalry is it?

  • Comment number 24.

    Nice blog Paul, and good to see Brighton's story getting some national attention. Of course, it's possible that by next season Albion won't be the only Sussex league club. Crawley are doing rather nicely so far...

  • Comment number 25.

    Great Blog Paul, as #24 Barham says its great for Brighton to be getting some postive reports after all that they have been through, I have been to the last few matches and its so nice to watch the style of Football that they are playing currently and whats great they dont change there style home or away, in fact we have conceded just 3 times away from hom this season which in itself is pretty amazing considering we have been to Sheff Wed, Charlton, Carlise, Plymouth and Peterborough to name but a few. I hope the good times continue, speaking with a few fellow seasgulls last night we no a blip is going to come, but then its going to happen to all the sides at the top but with our 8 point margin at the moment we can afford to have a blip more than the others.

    home support is up by almost 1500 from this time last year and I think by the time we get to Flamer whether league 1 or championship we could be looking at gates of 15000 which will be amazing.

    Gus and the gang are doing great, the club is in great hands and I hope it contiues for a long long time cause its been some dark cold years in recent times!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Great Blog and great to see Brighton doing so well this season!

    I find people who comment on Gus' dedication to the club somewhat insulting, as he has already turned down an offer from Zaragoza (his old club) and the chance to manage the Uruguayan u21s. They must have been difficult to turn down but he has decided to stay with us.

    I think our biggest challenge will be away to Huddersfield on the 11th of December, with last years horrific result playing on their minds. Before the season began I was looking for a top half finish, but the way the team and club are performing now, I would say automatic promotion are ours to lose now.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a Uruguayan, I have been checking League One results since last year just to see how Poyet is doing.
    Hope he stays there and is sucessful for a long time and in 2020 or so he can come manage the National team.
    Good luck to Brighton!

    btw, just some trivia about Gustavo Poyet's family:
    Gustavo Poyet's father: was an international basketball player for Uruguay.
    Gustavo Poyet: was an international football player for Uruguay.
    Gustavo Poyet's son: future international football player for Uruguay? Or perhaps for England? (I would bet on the latter, the Uruguayan FA is rather slow in securing players)

  • Comment number 28.

    great blog. Im over the moon about are form and passing ability at the moment. i do think lua lua will get snapped up sooner or later though.

  • Comment number 29.

    Really good read that, very well written. As a Chelsea fan I was a huge fan of Gus Poyet and I am not surprised to see him doing well in management. I think he's an honourable man and I can see him staying with Brighton for a while, sounds like he's been left in full charge of the football club, there aren't many jobs that let you do that in football these days. I do expect him to go onto bigger roles in the future though, he's got the desirable attribute of being multi-lingual of course which is imperative these days. What is it with ex Chelsea players and management? Poyet, DiMatteo, Newton, Zola, Vialli, Wise, Clarke, Petrescu, Hughes all played together for Chelsea.

  • Comment number 30.

    I interviewed Gus recently. Lovely man... hackneyed cliché it may be, but he's so passionate about the game - specifically, the English game. http://defensivemidfielder.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/gus-poyet/

  • Comment number 31.

    Good for Gus Poyet and good for Brighton too - thoroughly nice bloke doing well and nice to see Brighton doing well after the traumas of recent years.

  • Comment number 32.

    We're witnessing the transition from medium to large club!

  • Comment number 33.

    I have also been following Brighton for 40-odd years, since my grandfather used to take me there in the late 50s. I think the team they have now is excellent and I love the way they play, but I suspect that the team that played in the old Division 1 and reached the FA Cup Final in 1983 was probably better, as it contained a lot of International players. What I really like about Gus Poyet is that he has come up with the novel idea of bringing players to the club who can actually control the ball and pass it to one another! Roll on Falmer and the Championship!

  • Comment number 34.

    David Sinden - I'm also a fan of 40 years standing (will always remember Kit Napier scoring direct from a corner)and maybe the Division 1 side had some bigger names, but this team plays better football than any Albion side I've ever seen. In fact, better than any side in the third tier that I've ever seen.

    As for Gus' loyalty, I think Paul's got it right, it will take a big club to tempt him away and the Premiership rarely looks lower than the top 6 in the Championship for recruits. Of course, by the time Harry Redknapp replaces Capello, we may well be in the top 6 of the Championship..

  • Comment number 35.

    Poyet is possibly a very great coach and, no, he won't be at BHA for ever. But if I were he I would want to take BHA to the title, the new stadium and a new era to cement my credentials...and maybe stick around in the championship a while to show he's not a flash in the pan...

    What I'm saying, as a BHA fan is GUS, YOU'RE A GOD! DON"T GO!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Really enjoyable and informative blog, Paul, as usual. I must admit that I'm learning a great deal about the Football league and long may it continue! Just out of interest, although I'm currently based in Spain, my formative years were spent in Bristol and your observation on the size of Brighton's catchment area made me think. Why on earth have the two Bristol clubs, (Bristol being a large, wealthy city in its own right with what I imagine must be a potentially huge catchment area) failed to get into, or consistently near, the top tier? I'd be really interested to hear your (or any other readers') views!

  • Comment number 37.

    a great article and heartwarming reading for any lifelong Albion fan. Standing on the terraces at the priestfield stadium with only just over a thousand others watching on a cold winter evening in 1997 watching us get thrashed by Barnet seems a long long time ago. We always knew this time would come, we just kept the faith.

  • Comment number 38.

    #1 Phil

    Poyet has already been offered a job with the Uraguay under 20's earlier this year and rejected it
    He was also offered the chance to go to Zaragoza as manager, so i believe it is evident to see where his loyalties are right now to the club.
    Signing a long term contract is also more evidence, it is a big decision to sign a contract for a long time with a club, and he has recently spoken about how he wants to progress the club in the long term.

  • Comment number 39.

    Go past the ground on a regular basis and it does look like a stadium that would not look out of place in the Prem can not wait to see the big boys on the South Coast

  • Comment number 40.

    Great article and comments.

    I for one think Gus Poyet has been given the control & long-term backing to infuse his brand of football in the club and really build something special. The whole team plays his way, and changes of personnel don't derail that. They take every game seriously, whoever the opponents.

    If he gets another job offer I think he'd need to get something of the same structure and long-termism in place before he'd accept it, and he'd need a club with significantly greater resources to make it truly worthwhile jumping ship. I think he aspires to long periods of successful management and team moulding in his style rather than a 'fixer' who moves from troubled club to troubled club. Dario Gradi's long tenure at Crewe would be nothing to be ashamed of, and Alex Ferguson's eventual rise to sustained success with Man U is a high aspiration to emulate.

    With the new stadium definitely getting completed, the club has potential to establish and sustain themselves at least at Championship level. On the basis of typical management, hovering around Championship level with some seasons a league above or below is feasible. With outstanding management, who knows!

    But what he's trying to do and his attitude of being dissatisfied with a fortunate win if the players didn't approach it in the right way or implement the tactics is perfect. It reminds me of Brian Clough's clear vision of how the team should play ('more of the same' when one-nil down to a fortunate opponent, or 'bloody rubbish' when 2-0 up by luck) but with rather more humility and even temper in his public appearances.

    The Championship would be a significant step up in class and it would be interesting to see at what level the quality of opposition can regularly break down Poyet's current team's possession football either by outscoring or ball-winning. Hopefully when form eventually takes a dip, the chairman will maintain the long-term vision and help him continue to build, because such strong foundations are all too easy to demolish amid short-term setbacks.

    If he can take a modest provincial club a long way for a sustained period without spending silly money he'll establish a very good name for himself and open the door to serious long-term opportunities with really big clubs or international teams and perhaps earn enough respect that their fans will permit him to impose his style of play.

    We can't expect him to emulate the Nottingham Forest of the 1970s but I'd like him to demonstrate that his management can build effective teams in the long run and can elevate the team's fortunes without excessive spending to produce consistently good performance over the course of seasons.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great article, Paul, especially for us Albion fans. As 'marcusgibbs' says above, Priestfield does seem a long way away now but can still induce a shiver down the spine... You have managed to encapsulate & describe fully the total buzz that is BHA at the moment. Of course we will suffer a blip but we are well placed to weather that particular storm when it arrives. You have also mentioned as hoped, the huge contribution made by Tony & the rest of the Bloom family to Brightons past & undoubtably secure future. Thanks again.......:-)

  • Comment number 42.

    As a Swansea fan, I am delighted to see the Seagulls doing so well. I'll always remember the sportsmanship of the Brighton fans at the Withdean on the final day of the 2007/08 season, when we beat them 1-0 and were crowned as the Division One champions.
    They applauded us to the rafters at the end, and many shook my hand in the carpark afterwards and complemented us. Real sportsmen.
    It's great that you're getting a superb new stadium, it's not a great viewing platform for away fans at the Withdean!
    Also glad to see our ex player Marcos Painter doing so well. Paulo Sousa made a huge mistake releasing him after an injury and loss of form, he's a Premiership full back. Form is temporary, class is permanent. Our loss, your gain.
    All the best for this season, see you in the Prem the season after next!

  • Comment number 43.

    Poyet and di Matteo must be the best two managers in England in the 35 to 45 age range. Unfortunately, neither are British.

    The best of British in that age range - Owen Coyle, Aidy Boothroyd, Brendan Rodgers, Nigel Clough, Simon Grayson, Lee Clark et al - don't come close.

    View of the new stadium being built at Falmer here:
    http://www.lobstervision.tv/bhafc/

  • Comment number 44.

    Gus Poyet my lord Gus Poyet........
    The football we are playing at the moment is a joy to watch. Exeter were run ragged and for the last 20 mins had nothing left in the tank, if Barnes had a bit more composure and finishing he'd of ended up with 2 hatricks!
    Poyet has got the team playing just the way he wants and i was a little worried it wouldn't work in this div but so far proved wrong.
    Key is to keep Lua Lua after loan ends in Jan and maybe get another striker - we were linked with Healey for a while.
    Post match comments from opposition managers always seem to be how good we are, the best team theyve played in the div so far and we will be up there come the end of the season. Lets hope so and im sure if it continues Gus will want to see this through especially with the new stadium next season and posiable championship football.

  • Comment number 45.

    I am keeping an eye on the Seagulls due to Lua Lua and personally due to a long family tradition (Father stationed in Brighton during the war and family holidays there since 1967).

    It is excellent to see such sure and steady progress and I am sure Poyet is aware of what could be built and will give it a good stretch. As he is so young it is almost inevitable that a richer club would make an approach when He has proved himself, but c'est la vie; if he leaves Brighton as a solid top championship club or even punches above and makes the Prem then all Seagulls fans would I'm sure wish him well and be delighted with what He and the owner have created.

    We also compare the super supportive and sensible backing of your owner with the dilettante plaything attitude of ours. Yours has put in almost half what ours has yet ours believes that he should be worshipped despite the fact that he owns an established EPL club with modern champions league history and 45-50,000+ crowds.

    Yours has taken a lower league club and has put in place management, structure facilities and the beginnings of a self sustaining squad with along term view to greater glories.

    Ours had a dabble ,screwed up massively and only by disappearing from the scene and keeping his mouth shut allowed Chris Hughton to develop a team and club ethos that will stand us in good stead for years to come. Ashley's penny pinching appointment of Chris Hughton (only reason he got it was that he was the cheap option) will be the saving of NUFC until M.A finally gets the return he wants and waddles off to his next "Gamble".

    All the best to the Seagulls, see you in the prem shortly and congrats to the Blogger on a well informed and very well written piece that puts the lies and vitriol of the red top rags to shame.

  • Comment number 46.

    It is heartwarming to see. I, like many, was saying some weeks ago that I didn't think BHA could keep up their run of form, but they seem to be doing just that.

    As a Huddersfield supporter, I am hopeful we can catch them, and we certainly understand what it's like to have a young manager that is often linked to any job that comes up. We are also very fortunate to have a benefactor, not too dissimilar to The Lizard, our chairman has made money playing with cards too!

    Good luck to you Brighton AND Hove...it's about time you got the "And Smith must score!!" monkey from your back!!

    Here's to both our teams playing higher league football next year.

  • Comment number 47.

    Super read that. Poyet comes accross as a great bloke and clearly has the knack when it comes to the job as well. Would be good to see Brighton back in the big time. When you look at some of the recent League1/2 to Prem successes it doesn't seem far fetched at all.

    Very interesting to see his son is playing for England at U16 level though I suppose if he's lived here since Gus joined Chelsea he must have spent most of his life in England.

  • Comment number 48.

    #38, do you really think a long term contract means anything? It means this:

    1) He gets a big pay off if he's sacked which benefits him
    2) Albion will get compensation if a bigger club comes in

    Dont kid yourself it means he will definitely be there for 4 years!

    Every manager talks about their long term plans, they are hardly going to confess that they will up ship and leave the second a better offer comes along! You are a little naive for thinking this, imho.

    There is very little loyalty left in football and my point has always been, that as a coach Poyet has shown none in his career so far.

    And with all due respect to Uruguay, maybe Poyet is settled in England, and he enjoys coaching, so why take on what is essentially a part time coaching job!?

    I havent heard the Zaragoza link, so i cant comment on that, whether it is fact or hear say, i dont know. But again, maybe his family is settled in England and he doesnt want to leave, his son is enrolled into English football too.

  • Comment number 49.

    Now then,

    I'm glad to see that there is so much good feeling towards Brighton. I have always been made to feel very welcome when down that way, either to watch football or simply for fun (not that football isn't fun).

    I reckon Poyet is very passionately Uruguayan so it would be interesting if his son did go on to play for England (might you it would currently be a long trip for him to play home fixtures).

    A very interesting thought by R Nair (comment 43).....

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh, and another thing, I wonder if the £3.69 carvery next to the Withdean will suffer a loss in takings once Albion have moved. It was rammed on Tuesday.

  • Comment number 51.

    #50.....£3.69, Im gutted, I spent nearly £4 on a dodgy hot dog from a burger van outside the south stand!! if only I had known all these years you could get a carvery for £3.69, I would not have needed to diet!!
    Great article Paul and thanks for highlighting the Good times currently being experainced by us Seagulls fans.

  • Comment number 52.

    Re R Nair - comment 43

    Strange logic. Owen Coyle won promotion to the Premiership with Burnley and has improved Bolton no end. To say that Coyle 'doesn't come close' to Poyet, who has had half a good season with Brighton, is ill thought-out at best.

    Grayson won promotion twice out of League One with two different clubs, spending next to no money each time yet he too 'doesn't come close' to still unproven Poyet? Bias against English managers by any chance?

  • Comment number 53.

    I can remember as a kid regularly being in crowds of 28,000 at the Goldstone in the early eighties, I thought maybe 22,500 was a bit modest..

    I'm so pleased with how things are going, and taking my three sons to Falmer next season to watch Championship football. I hope Gus sticks around for a while. The set up at the club has been great for quite a few years now, lots of youngsters coming through a top youth set up - that never used to happen, and is very encouraging. I think in 5 years - Premier League.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm a lifelong Seagulls fan and have experienced many highs and lows with The Albion: Losing the '91 play-off final; getting relegated the following season from division 2 to division 2 (not many teams can claim to have done that!); the dodgy directors; the do or die last game of the season at Hereford; losing the Goldstone; the back to back promotions at the beginning of the century; the play-off final at Cardiff. I could go on...

    I live about 35 miles along the coast in Hastings, I grew with mates supporting Man. Utd, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and just couldn't understand why they wouldn't want to support their local East Sussex team. I couldn't dream of supporting anyone else, I love The Albion and always have done, through the good times and the bad.

    Right now is certainly a good time, a really good time. I was lucky enough to be at the Exeter game on Tuesday and the performance I witnessed was the best I've ever seen as a Brighton fan. The way we pass the ball about is beautiful to see and the way we're playing right now and I think a lot of Championship (and maybe even 1 or 2 premiership) teams would struggle to beat us.

    Loving, more than ever, being a Brighton fan right now...Brighton till I die!

  • Comment number 55.

    Great blog Paul. I too was going to raise the point to #1 that Gus has never been a manager before so it is a completely different situation. There is certainly no doubt that what Gus has done at the Albion has been a massive leap forward, but I wonder if people are getting carried away with talk of him walking out for a prem job just at the moment. The leap is often too much for players, so why should it be any different for managers. As people have pointed out, there have been several examples of moving up too early. I hope, and I believe he will stick around, and really learn the skills he needs to be where he could be, right at the top.

    The club certainly has had a rough ride of it, but I am so pleased that everything is going in the right direction. I remember going to the one of, if not the, last game of the 92/93 season against bottom of the table Chester, who had conceded 100 goals. We were 2-0 down in no time, before recovering to win 3-2! The details might not be exact, but that sums up what the club was all about - doing things the hard way.

    So many stories: The Coca-Cola buy a player purchase of Colin Kazim-Richards, Kurt Nogan (prolific until we flogged him and then did next to nothing), inspired loans of Dickov from Arsenal, the infamous Leon Knight and of course, Bobby Z.

    The new stadium looks amazing, and I, and my young son, get very excited every time we go past. I still know people who won't step foot on the Goldstone Retail Park, but for me, it brings back great memories, and I hope Falmer will do the same.


  • Comment number 56.

    Firstly might I say what an excellent blog, Paul.

    Well-researched, well-balanced, well-thought-out and successful in capturing the mood of optimism and promise around this grand old club of ours!

    I look forward to reading you regularly from now on.

    Also, compliments to the contributors to this comments section. Really positive and interesting responses to the article which made it all the more an entertaining read.

    To Pablo (Post #27) I say thank you and invite you to come to a game some time. The football is sublime and we have flags and songs on a Uruguayan theme nowadays in praise of the man who is fast taking on legendary status at the club, in this the most international English city outside London!

    Gus calls his brand of football 'flicky flicky'! I don't know what to call it but I LOVE it!!

    In the recent era, The Albion have been evicted from their rightful home, placed into enforced exile in Gillingham (if Kent truly is The Garden Of England then Priestfield was it's crumbling outside toilet!!!), restricted to sustained and unavoidable losses despite being generally very well run and after all that and the longest running major planning saga in European history no less, we are finally staring a glorious new home in the face.

    The stadium is top spec', spacious and classy. The football appears to be fitting of such a grand design and if any football fans deserve the prospect of a golden period which this might well become, then it's The Seagulls! We've achieved some success DESPITE The Withdean but The Amex will provide the possibility of genuine and sustained success.

    In appointing Gus, Tony Bloom has found the perfect fit for our club: a bright, articulate, intelligent, extremely likeably and media savvy manager who is hungry for success and in Brighton has found the club who match his ambitions. He's declined offers from other clubs to wait for the ideal scenario and claims we are it.

    I am already in seventh heaven with the way things have shaped up in Sussex but for Gus to remain in situ' for several years or more, sharing success with the adopted club of his heart would be sublime.

    He has made no secret of a desire to manage Chelsea one day. let's hope he stays put until such time.

  • Comment number 57.

    As a footnote can I just add that The Albion have been deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the peak period for attendances due in part to our serious decline in fortunes on the field, for various reasons, in the 90s and then due to size and especially quality of Withdean since 1999.

    There is, in effect, a lost generation who have either found the change from The Goldstone to the awful Withdean experience gradually more unbearable or are a younger breed who've only known and hated the latter.

    The club's true potential in terms of fanbase is rather unclear but the amount of people claiming they will return after years away suggests a major increase in attendances is imminent.

    Season tickets are already rising, uptake in corporate packages for The Amex have sold out already and general interest in likely to be immense.

    I anticipate regular sell-outs regardless of whether we are in The Championship or League 1.

    Of course, numbers will dwindle if we start to flop significantly on the (top-of-the-range!) pitch but overall expect to see our fanbase return to its much larger natural levels.

  • Comment number 58.

    Great blog Paul. Always good to see coverage of clubs from outside of the Premiership.

    As a Brighton fan, I think GP and his team are really bringing out the best in everyone: the players, fans and staff. And that's something to celebrate especially in an era of silly money (esp player salaries) and minimal commitment. Sure, I think there's a risk that GP could be tempted away but to a very few, select clubs. No way is he going to go to a club like Blackpool (and that's no disrespect to them...I think he'd only go to a club where he has some kind of personal connection).

    I also think that what we have here is a great example of what clubs outside the super-elite can achieve: no that long ago, we were on the brink of a very deep abyss yet here we stand, top of our division with a new ground being worked on every day playing some really attractive footy. I mention this because without the help of so many non-Brighton fans, our fortunes could be so very different (and we'll never forget that).

    Gus for PM !

    pip pip

  • Comment number 59.

    Great blog and I completely agree. You blogs are pretty much spot on all the time though. You don't seem to have an agenda like some and always seem well informed. I'm a Saints fan but always look out for Brighton results since living in Hove in the early to mid 90's.

    You can never predict but Brighton are looking in good shape for the future. When you consider what they've been through since in the last 20 years its about time they had some good news.

    I mentioned to a couple of mates who are Brighton fans in the summer that this season was surely all about ensuring they stay in League One given they had a bad 2009 season but ended it quite well. Do that and once in Falmer they can kick on.

    Well they've made me look a fool for suggesting league survival was the top aim!!

    Not sure they are necessarily setup for a push to the Prem though. There is always the exception but to be able to compete in the Prem you need huge amounts of money and it only seems to get worse each year.

    But that is mostly irrelevant right now. Fact is Brighton and its fans are in a great place at this time and they should enjoy every single minute of it.

  • Comment number 60.

    Poyet did a fantastic job at Leeds and as soon as he left to better himself (I personally don't feel he jumped ship) our play just wasnt the same.

    Wise always depended on long ball tactics; where as Poyet was always the better footballing mind out of the two and that showed when he left. Wise was lost without him and in the end, he left too, knowing he would have been sacked if he didnt resign.

    In Poyet, Brighton have got an excellent tactician and hopefully he will succeed for them.

    I guess the only thing that does need to be addressed is of course, what will happen if a big team do come looking at him? It's a lot easier to take a job in the premiership than it is to take a team there.......

  • Comment number 61.

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