The Brighton & Hove Albion talk that’s created online civil war – and how the club could have brought peace

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It’s like a throwback to Anneka Rice, with her fetching brightly coloured jumpsuits and the helicopter.

But this is Challenge Harty: Can I pen an entire column without writing the 'P' word? Well here goes…

As has been said numerous times over the years, it’s certainly never dull supporting the Albion and the events of the past week or so are testament to that.

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As a former Albion boss said in various press conferences “it is what it is” – but ‘it’ has actually been both disappointing and at times extremely distasteful.

Brighton fans had great togatherness last season - but the issue of an ex-manager's possible return has divided people | Photo by Jon RigbyBrighton fans had great togatherness last season - but the issue of an ex-manager's possible return has divided people | Photo by Jon Rigby
Brighton fans had great togatherness last season - but the issue of an ex-manager's possible return has divided people | Photo by Jon Rigby

Whatever faults he may or may not have had, one of Roberto De Zerbi’s qualities, which ultimately became part of his legacy, was that on the Albion European tour, he unified the Albion support, young and old.

The atmosphere at the respective away games, in Marseille, Amsterdam, Athens and Rome, made the grey hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and to a degree that translated to all the games over here – despite a horrendous injury list, the Albion faithful truly were ‘as one’.

Obviously, there’s any number of versions of why and how RDZ departed, and the only one that really counts is Tony Bloom’s, but in the wake of the manager’s exit, speculation has intensified about his successor.

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With initial Albion target Kieran McKenna being effectively a ‘non-starter’, another name came to the fore, but just the very act of putting this individual’s name into the mix has created a huge divide, a chasm almost, among the Albion support.

Looking on social media it’s at times truly toxic and as someone who is old enough to have fought shoulder to shoulder with other supporters to save this club over a quarter of a century ago, it is – to reiterate – extremely distasteful.

On the back of last week’s column about the prospect of his return, I was trolled online – branded a ‘cowardly keyboard warrior’ – by, you’ve guessed it, a keyboard warrior.

He or she disappeared into the ether before I could tell them that I would have been more than happy to have gone round to the ex-manager’s house and repeated to his face what I’ve be writing in this column.

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And frankly I hold the club partly responsible: their fans are their lifeblood, yet they’ve effectively sat back at let this online civil war rage.

If the individual isn’t coming, which I now don’t think he is, then once they knew that, why not put out a simple statement? “We are still talking to a number of potential candidates but can state at this juncture none of them is a former manager of Brighton and Hove Albion,” they could have said. Civil war, shut down immediately.

Well they say every day is a school day, so at least they will know for next time. I’m off now to watch my favourite Harry Potter film… doh!

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