GUS POYET’S Seagulls had a week off because of the international break.
Actually it was nearer to a fortnight as our WIN over Barnsley was on November 6 and the up coming game against Southampton is this Saturday, the 19th.
This break does seem slightly perverse given that in September we had to play Liverpool, Leeds and Crystal Palace in the space of six days and more recently three league games in the week leading up to the Barnsley fixture.
The reason is because we were promoted to the higher level, joining the Championship and Premiership clubs. But our international representation was fairly limited to say the least.
Craig Mackail-Smith was in the Scottish squad last Friday that played in the Cyprus friendly at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium (that was an away fixture). Scotland won 2–1 with Craig coming on for the last half-hour.
Gonzalo Jara Reyes, our defender on loan from West Brom, joined the Chilean squad in South America. Unfortunately he found himself excluded and banished for a curfew contravention. It wasn’t exactly a ‘Carlos Tevez incident’ and all the more strange as he was still carrying an injury and wouldn’t have played anyway.
The only other international connection we can claim is ‘our’ Bobby Zamora. Now with Fulham but he will always remain a Brighton legend. He was in the England squad that beat world champions Spain at Wembley - but he was an unused substitute and didn’t get onto the pitch, although he played a big part in the national side’s 1-0 win over Sweden a few days later.
I‘m pleased to report that our marvellous new Amex Stadium now has international pedigree. England Under-19s played and won there last week, beating Denmark -0. Apparently the FA were very happy about the venue and they will recommend that we have more internationals there (despite the one stupid streaker!).
The break has given Gus Poyet time to think and talk. He confirmed that his aim is to become a Premier league manager with Brighton - but we should be patient.
He said: “I want to manage at the top and that means Premier League … it does not need to happen now but within the next few years we need to get there...I want to be sure that we are ready. If it happens earlier we would have to adapt and change things quickly; perhaps spend too much money in a short period of time to bring in new players.”
This thought brings us to club owner chairman Tony Bloom. It is Bloom’s deep pockets that could come into play. They have been working together for two years now. Gus said: “The relationship is something that is more important in football nowadays, because of the high profile owners and chairmen in the game.
“Sometimes you cannot get to the understanding which I have with Tony Bloom. I still call him chairman because I respect him a lot but he knows we both want the same … I am very lucky to have Tony Bloom as chairman.”
Poyet also came out with a promise for the future based on the purpose-built facility for the club that he is having a major input to. He said about the new training facility and planned academy status: “I am fed up of people criticising the technical ability of the average England player and we are going to do something about it...we have not done enough and that includes me ... but we are going to have that chance so we want to do something positive at Brighton...we want to do it right and it’s important for me to have that sort of influence on a football club.”
Gus also had praise for the fans: “The fans here are always unbelievable and that certainly helps us win games, but the ones who need to perform every game are the players. Fans can certainly help though.”
And I’m certain the team are going to need all the support they can get from the Albion fans at St. Marys when Brighton take on the league leaders Southampton.
I admit to being worried. The Saints have the perfect record to protect – played 8, won 8. But Gus will be celebrating the second anniversary of being in charge of Brighton.
Two years ago his very first game was at Southampton – we won 3- 2 in what was one of my happiest away games. Is it possible his Seagulls can do it again?