Okay. Straight up, I admit it. I was meant to write this column last week. Mind you, there wasn’t much going on!
Amid the razzamatazz of the media throng ahead of the opening weekend of the season, I hosted an interesting night at the Amex with the Fans Forum (thanks to all who came) and a small matter of a match against Manchester City.
As part of this season’s coverage Warren Aspinall and I have agreed to enter the club’s official Fantasy Football League. Who to pick? Who to pick from the Albion squad? Despite several contenders, I went for a player I’m tipping for a big season (yes, I did this before Saturday as Steve Bailey will verify!). Solly March.
Having written his name in Seagulls’ folklore with his goal against Wigan, he already looks at home in the top-flight. The long-term injury he suffered meant long periods in the gym and March looks stronger. He also looks to have gained a few inches in height.
His talent has been there to see for some time, a talent that attracted attention from the likes of Southampton amongst others. March is also mentally stronger. Mental strength will be key this season as the team is likely to suffer some setbacks along the way. However, the points tally that the England under-21 international can provide for my team may be stifled by selection.
Championship player of the season Anthony Knockaert is returning to full fitness and it is debatable as to whether Chris Hughton would include both in the side.
March has been utilised mainly on the right cutting in but there is a case for him to go on the left regularly in my view. Games at Birmingham last season and even Atletico Madrid at home showed he now has the pace and power to go on the outside.
Many fans I spoke to on Saturday were delighted March started the match against one of the title favourites. I had to agree and not just for my team.
He may have only got two points for me on Saturday but I think there’s more to come. March’s progress was just one of the topics discussed on our new weekly Albion show on BBC Sussex ‘Albion Unlimited’.
If you missed it, the edited version, including an interview with former Seagulls boss Micky Adams, is available on our website.
Micky is fully aware, like so many, of the history and challenges for the club, he is also conscious of what the squad needs to do to stay up.
A big season from one local lad from Hailsham might just help in achieving that. It might just help me move up the Fantasy Football table.
Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.
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