During this off-season, I thought it would be good for me to go out there and talk to a fan of every Premier League club. I wanted to get their insight on how things went last season, what they are looking forward to in the transfer market and how they thought next season was going to go for them. This whole series, you will be able to find here.
For this interview , I “sat down” with We Are Brighton, “I’ve been stuck as a Brighton fan since my parents first took me to the Goldstone Ground as a two year old in the early 1990s. I’ve watched the Albion in all four divisions of English football and at four different home grounds. The website began in February 2009. Brighton had just lost 4-0 to Crewe Alexandra in front of just over 5,000 fans at Withdean Stadium to sink into the League One relegation zone. A former television salesman called Dean White was in caretaker charge and we looked doomed to League Two. At that point, it looked like our new website would be a great place to rant. Instead, Russell Slade rode to Brighton’s rescue, Tony Bloom took over as chairman three months later and the rest is history.” To find their website, you can go to www.wearebrighton.com.
So, with that said, let’s get on with the interview:
Hi there, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me, welcome to Millsy’s View!
Response: Thank you for having me.
So, I’m looking to do a season review of the 2019/20 season, can you tell me how you felt about your team’s prospects going into this season?
Response: Nobody was really sure what to expect given the new manager factor. Plenty of Premier League sides have sacked bosses who have kept them up out of a desire to play more attacking football, only for it to turn around and bite them on the backside. It really was a massive gamble from Tony Bloom but one which thankfully he looks to have got right – as you might expect from a man who has made many millions as a professional poker player.
It is of course Graham Potter’s first season as manager, were you happy when the announcement was made that he was the man to replace Chris Hughton?
Potter seemed to be about as different to Hughton as you could imagine. Under Hughton we had an old and experienced squad who would prioritise clean sheets and sneak 1-0 wins. Potter arrived with a reputation for attacking football, blooding young players and being tactically flexible. Hughton’s sacking was one which seemed sadly inevitable given our form in the second half of 2018-19 when we won twice in 18, but I don’t think any Brighton fan could truly say they knew that it was a good appointment.
How do you feel differently about him now than you did then? And how do you feel he has coped with being manager of a Premier League club?
He’s done reasonably well, a solid 6/10 if you were asking for a score. There have been plenty of bizarre tactical decisions and between the start of November and the first game after project restart, we won just twice in 19 – a worse run than the one which cost Hughton his job. What Potter did which was most impressive during lockdown is go away, analyse what worked from his approach and what didn’t and changed his approach for the final nine games of the season. Before lockdown, we had lots of possession but did very little with it. After lockdown, we had less of the ball but used what we did have much better. Finishing seven points clear of the relegation zone, given that we were right in the mire at the end of February, was an excellent achievement and augurs well for the future.
The tactics employed by Brighton this season have made you a really tough side to beat, and has allowed your side to get some massive wins, namely over Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and a fantastic double over Arsenal. Would you like them to continue with this counter-attacking approach, or would you like to see them slowly change and take a bit more possession in games?
As we’ve just discussed, Potterball was originally all about possession. The nadir of that came at Newcastle United in September when we had something like 75% possession yet came away drawing 0-0. The approach that Potter struck from June onwards served us well and it is to his credit that he was willing to change his philosophy. A lot of managers stick stubbornly to their guns whereas Potter adapted and ultimately, it delivered our highest ever points tally in the Premier League.
So, that concludes the first part of the interview, thank you very much for reading and stay tuned for part two. There, we go into Brighton’s Premier League relegation worries, their player of the season and other players Brighton might have that we may not have heard of. If you enjoyed reading it, you can find all other fan interviews conducted this post-season here, to check out what We Are Brighton are up to, you can visit their Twitter page here, or visit their website here.
To see the rest of my interviews with Premier League fans, you can visit the page here.