Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the south coast, I’ve been chatting with Ady Packham from the Albion Roar radio show…
So, before we get stuck into the nitty-gritty, it’s always good to hear a bit my interviewees and their footballing journeys. Why Brighton? And how did the Albion Roar come about?
Ady: The first Albion Roar was broadcast in 2003 on Brighton Festival Radio, which only had a four-week run but when that became Radio Reverb and got a full-time licence in 2008, myself and my co-host Alan Wares got involved and eventually took the show over. We became one of the first football shows to take advantage of these new things called podcasts.
The club back then was in League One and the show, like the club, has gone from strength to strength since.
We are passionate about our local club and try to cover it all from the footballing exploits to the community projects which the Albion are good at. It’s not all about the team out on the pitch, it’s about the community.
It would be fair to say that you don’t support teams like Brighton and Norwich for the glory!
Certainly can’t argue with that!
Happy with your start to the season? 12 points from 10 games and two wins in the last three suggest to me you will be?
We are still in a transitional period as the players get to grips with the new style of play and get used to the tactical changes that Graham Potter has brought in.
The performances have largely been good, but we have not necessarily got the points that the performances have deserved.
Playing beautiful football means nothing if you’re not putting the ball in the back of the net. That said, we are moving in the right direction so we will take the 12 points
He impressed us last season at Swansea, so Potter did look a good fit to be fair.
But let’s talk Chris Hughton. Your thoughts? Am sure we can agree that whatever we think of his footballing style, he is most definitely a “nice bloke”.
No one at the Albion will have a bad word to say about Chris. He is arguably our greatest ever manager in that not only did he get us promoted to the top division, but he also kept us there and got us to an FA Cup semi-final.
Yes, the football was attritional at times last season, but his remit was to keep us up and he did.
Our form did fall off a cliff from the turn of the year last season and 36 points is not usually enough to keep you up.
When he was let go at the end of last season, the reaction was that we had just kicked a dog. He is held in such high esteem throughout the footballing world and his class and dignity is something that will always be appreciated here
But he goes with his head held high and has still never been relegated as a manager.
Technically that’s true, although most here would argue it was him who took us down in 2013/14… we just happened to sack him with five games remaining. Lovely bloke though!
Would I be right in saying Potter’s more expansive and eye-catching football has found favour with the Amex faithful? He’s asking Lewis Dunk and co to play the ball out from the back, right? Any teething problems?
We have been enjoying it! It’s certainly been educational. One of the criticisms of Hughton was that there was quite often not a plan B. Under Potter there has been a plan A, B, C, D and E.
One of the demands that Potter puts upon his players is that they are flexible across a number of formations and he will often change several times within a game.
The fall guy in all of this has been last year’s player-of-the season Shane Duffy, who has not quite yet come to terms with the three at the back preferred by Potter.
I know we’re only ten games in, but who in your team has stood out so far? What I’m trying to say is, who should we be fearful of ahead of Saturday?
It’s been a stop-start season for him so far due to injury but the one player I would be worried about is Belgian playmaker Leandro Trossard. He is the heir apparent to Hazards crown and captained unfancied Gent to the Jupiler League title last season.
He has been eased back in but came off the bench and was pivotal in turning the tide against Everton last week.
We are very excited about him.
Oh blimey … wish I hadn’t asked.
So, do you see yourselves as Premier League ‘regulars’ yet, or do you (like us) feel like unwelcome interlopers at a posh party?
We are very much aware of who we are and where we have come from and that 22 years ago, we very nearly didn’t have a club at all.
We are trying to establish ourselves at this level and have ambitions of regularly competing in the top half of the table but, for now, we are still very much nervously looking over our shoulders
I’m loathed to ask, but what have you made of our season so far?
It’s not been a total disaster but there is a danger of the Man City result papering over the cracks.
It seems that Farke is keen to keep faith with those that served him so well last season and won promotion, but I suspect that there will be some investment in January as if Pukki isn’t scoring then goals need to come from somewhere else.
We are delighted to see Tim Krul playing well
Your owners… are they super-wealthy? Have they been the drivers behind this rise from the Withdean to FA Cup semi-finals? We’re talking a different route – self-funding – partly because no-one wants to invest in us ?
We would point you in the direction of this week’s Albion Roar where our chairman Tony Bloom joined us, and we went through his ten years at the helm.
First and foremost Tony is a fan. There has been a member of his family involved in the club since the 50s.
He came in at a time when the banks were not loaning any money, we needed to pay to build the stadium. Tony put in the £90 million to build the Amex and has invested in the infrastructure such as the new training ground and the academy.
He is passionate about the club but lets his head rule the business side of it. He has put together a crack team to help him such as Paul Barber and Dan Ashworth.
We are ambitious and have spent a decent wedge of money but we still do not have a top ten budget and the fact that we are starting to see some return on the investment into the academy. A manager that is prepared to give the likes of Aaron Connelly and Steven Alzate a chance will hopefully bridge that gap.
We are in good hands.
So… to end, the *almost* standard question. I usually ask for a score prediction, but given that every single team expects to beat us, how many do you expect to win by?
Usually, if a side comes to the Amex in some sort of poor form, they can expect one thing – three points gift-wrapped!
We are hoping those days are behind us, but we are not taking anything for granted…
You sound confident, probably with good reason. Cheers for your time.