AS the wins have dried up, people have asked me: “what’s happened to your Seagulls?”
In answer I say “Six months ago we were in League One whilst Birmingham, West Ham etc, the teams we are playing now, were in the Premiership. We’ve come a long way and should be happy to be where we are now.”
But I must admit I am just a little bit worried!
The result against the Blues (a 0-0 draw) was good, however. Not many clubs are going to get a draw up at St Andrew’s.
However, the 1-0 loss at Vicarage Road was dreadful. Watford are struggling near the relegation zone but I don’t think we got a decent shot on target in the whole 90 minutes.
Last week after talking about our two new players (keeper Steve Harper and defender Gonzalo Reyes), I suggested manager Gus Poyet was still seeking a tall strong striker (a bit like Glenn Murray who we lost to Crystal Palace?).
Well, he got one in the shape of Billy Paynter from Leeds. He came on with 25 minutes to go against Birmingham and looked the business.
Gus had wanted Paynter for a long time and finally has him on a loan deal until January. Then it is wait and see.
Wearing the No 13 shirt he could be lucky for us! The 27-year-old comes via Swindon where he scored 45 goals. We now have two Painters on the pitch – but Marcos is with an “i” and Billy a “y”.
Gus said: “I expect him to come in and help by giving us an option we don’t have.”
Certainly at the moment Craig Mackail-Smith up-front needs all the help he can get.
Poyet was pleased by our solid defensive performance at Birmingham. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t a win but the single point took us to 10th in the Championship. But Albion injuries are starting to be a problem. Will Buckley was injured in the WARM-UP! This allowed Ashley Barnes back into the team.
One Gus decision that is being questioned is the dropping of our young central defender Lewis Dunk. “We wanted to give him a rest,” said Poyet.
Why I wonder? He brought back Inigo Calderon who, at 5ft something, found himself up against 6ft 8in Nikola Zigic.
The 2,000-plus Seagulls fans came away fairly happy with the result. The same can’t be said for the 1,500 or so who went up to Vicarage Road. To be honest I did expect that elusive win. WRONG.
As I said earlier, I don’t think we had a shot on target, which makes scoring goals very difficult. Again there was no Dunk. Another questionable decision has been allowing promising young defender Steve Cook to go out on loan to Bournemouth.
Amazingly, we again lost a player to injury in the warm-up. Right-back Reyes picked up a knock, causing Poyet another reshuffle. He brought on midfielder Ryan Harley, moving Romain Vincelot back.
Worse was to follow as Liam Bridcutt was subbed off early on with an unknown injury.
Poyet brought on his assistant, the recently un-retired Mauricio Taricco.
With Vicente, Buckley, Dicker, Reyes, El-Abd, and Elphick all on the sick list, Poyet is struggling to find and field his best XI.
Championship teams have all done their homework and know they have to stop our passing game. Watford did this and played a big side that were happy to get the ball forward.
At least they got a few shots in. Up front they had the big ex-Albion Chris Iwelumo. We had Billy Paynter who played his first full 90 minutes.
It was a poor game decided by a single scrambled goal late in the second-half.
Troy Deeney fired in a loose ball which Harper saved but couldn’t hold. Deeney followed up and scored. This was hard to take as Brighton did have the better of the second-half, without creating any clear-cut chances.
They huffed and puffed in the final 15 minutes, bringing on Kazenga LuaLua but couldn’t find an equaliser.
It is difficult to find any positives out of this game. After the game Gus said: “I will not change the way that we play.”
So, it seems he will not countenance a Plan B. Therefore he does need his best players fit as soon as possible.
So our run in the league without a win continues on to nine game. Amazingly we remain 11th and mid-table.
It is not time for any “Don’t panic” statements. I can still report that we are only four points away from the play-offs and eight above the relegation zone. But LDLLDDLDL won’t look good in the programme for our Sunday (kick-off 3pm) game against Barnsley.
We will WIN at last, won’t we?