Our Seagulls have sat proudly at the top of the Championship for two weeks now.
To be fair, I should admit that there were no games last week so we could hardly be overtaken. But how good to see us top in September with an unbeaten run of seven games.
There have been international matches and our striker Craig Mackail-Smith was involved for Scotland. Unfortunately he didn’t play AND picked up a back strain.
Speaking of internationals, Gus Poyet has done a deal just before the transfer deadline for the former Spanish international Vicente Rodriguez. =
Apparently a lot of top clubs were after him (I now include Brighton as a BIG club) and Poyet triumphed again in attracting a sought-after-player to the Albion ranks. So hard luck (again) Sven Goran Eriksson and his Leicester City (we pinched Mackail-Smith away from them in July).
Rodriguez is a 30-year-old offensive midfielder who has been capped 38 times by Spain. He left La Liga team Valencia in the summer and has signed a one-year deal with us. He has a fantastic record and experience: two Spanish league titles, the UEFA Cup 2004 and Champions League experience.
It will be interesting to see how he fares in our next game against Bristol City away this Saturday. The Saturday after we are also away, this time at big spending Leicester. Sven may have a point to prove.
I’ve been reflecting on the way we’ve come in just 12 months. In 2010 we were at Withdean, capacity 8,000 if you’re lucky and no cover for the stands.
Now it is the Amex and 22,000-plus in luxury. Into September 2010 we had played six matches and were seventh in League One. We had also lost to Leyton Orient in the Paint Pot Trophy 2-0 at Withdean in front of 3,124 people.
In those first six matches the crowds totalled 47,000 (which included nearly 19,000 at Sheffield Wednesday). In the first six games this season we have been watched by 110,000.
Take into account the tens of thousands Albion Pies and Albion Ales downed for example and you can get an idea of the tremendous difference in cash flow for the club!
Remember, we have beaten Premiership Sunderland and will beat Liverpool later this month in the Carling Cup (Ok, I may be a little ahead of myself here – but I’m pleased to say I do have my ticket safely booked!).
But suddenly for Albion fans it is a different world and all in just a year. It is fun again supporting the Seagulls, who continue to soar upwards.
Long may it continue? The bookies have already drastically shortened the odds on us being in the Premiership. We are unbeaten, the dream continues, and I don’t want to wake up any time soon.
The stats show us that winning the first three league games was our best start since 1953/54. Beating Peterborough in our fifth game equalled the second best start to a season ever!
Our charismatic manager Gus has a problem. Our stars from last season who were on the long-term sick list are almost ready to return, that is: Tommy Elphick and Adam El-Abd. Our new stars who had niggling strains, etc should be available. They are: Mackail-Smith, Will Buckley, Will Hoskins, Romain Vincelot and Kazenga LuaLua. And then there is new boy Rodriguez. What a nice problem!
I couldn’t name the starting XI at Bristol with any certainty or pick the five subs.
The squad is so much stronger than 12 months ago and in Gus we must trust.