Less than a year ago Brighton and Hove Albion were playing a style of football akin to that of Wigan Athletic under Roberto Martinez.
A lot has happened since then.
Both clubs lost their managers at the end of the season. Brighton sought a replacement who would build upon the style of play established by Gus Poyet, bringing in ex-Barcelona youth coach and ex-player Oscar Garcia. Latics chose a manager who prefers a more direct approach.
The two clubs are neck and neck in the Championship, with Latics in tenth place, one point and one position above Brighton. Both clubs have had bad luck with injuries so far this season. Both come into the match with two consecutive league victories under their belts.
Let’s get up to date with Brighton through the eyes of one of their keenest supporters.
Tim Attree’s love of the club dates back to when he was a kid and he would help his father sell jackpot tickets on matchdays outside the old Goldstone Ground. His father had watched Brighton from an early age and for decades would volunteer to help out selling programmes and jackpot tickets. Tim has kept up his father’s love of the club and hardly misses a single Brighton match.
Tim first came to Wigan in the mid 1970s, when I invited him to join me at Springfield Park to watch a Northern Premier League game with Stafford Rangers. Since then he paid repeated visits to Wigan to Springfield Park and the JJB/DW Stadium.
Over to Tim to answer some questions.
Does anybody know why Gus Poyet was pushed out after taking his team to the playoffs ?
Nobody seems to know or wants to say anything about it, but he told chairman Tony Bloom that he wanted to leave just before we beat Crystal Palace back in March. According to Bloom at ‘Fans Forum’ things deteriorated after that.
Did Albion’s fans like the tiki-taka style that your team played last year?
Yes we loved the way they played. Some of us think it’s the best we’ve ever seen!
How is the team performing? Has the style changed from last year?
Injuries have hit us hard, but we try to close down teams very quickly after losing the ball within 5-10 seconds – a bit like Barcelona. Oscar Garcia was at Barca and has brought that philosophy with him.
In addition there is the feeling that we do not keep the ball as long as we did with Gus and try and cross the ball a bit earlier. If we lose it we press high to get it back whereas with Gus we would all have gone back to defence as quickly as possible.
Latics made a decision to replace Roberto Martinez with a manager whose football is ‘more direct’. There are mixed feelings among fans about Coyle’s appointment. What do the Brighton fans think about Garcia?
The jury is still out on Garcia, but most fans think he is doing OK particularly having had so many injuries.
Who are the players in the Brighton team Latics will have to watch?
Goalie Tomas Kuszczak is very good. Liam Bridcutt (ex Chelsea youngster) is a strong holding midfielder and last week played his first 30 minutes or so after being out through injury. Will Buckley (ex -Watford) is a fast player who plays out wide, mainly on the right wing.
In defence we have Gordon Greer who has just won his first Scotland cap and Matthew Upson. We miss Wayne Bridge at left back but now have Stephen Ward on loan from Wolves who has just got back into the Irish team.
Who is going to finish higher in the table at the end of the season – Brighton or Wigan?
Don’t know! Suspect it will be close if both clubs can get all their players fit for the New Year!