Q&A With Brighton & Hove Albion

  • August 22, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/11985

Ahead of the 17th meeting between Brighton & Hove Albion and Bolton on Saturday, we have got the views of a Seagulls supporter.

Wanderers go into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, while Albion were 2-0 winners at Leeds United on the same evening.

In our latest edition of Q&A, we have spoken to Chris Field (@chrisfield25). Ahead of Saturday's game, Chris shares his views on Sami Hyypia's appointment as manager, Wanderers' capitulation in last season's corresponding fixture and why Craig Davies will have a point to prove against his former club.

Q: Once again, Brighton begin a new season with a new man in charge, having lost in the play-off semi-finals in the previous campaign. What did you make of Oscar Garcia's decision to resign and the subsequent appointment of Sami Hyypia?

A: Well, firstly, I'd just like to say hi, again, to all you guys at Burnden Aces and fans of Bolton Wanderers. I did indeed promise to return and do these questions for you guys.

Obviously, the end of last season was crazy! I don't think many people inside of Brighton, let alone outside of it, thought we could make it, but we did. It was a phenomenal way to qualify for the play-offs, but I knew we would do it! I think if you check my previous answers from both games last season, I said we would sneak into the top-six.

Personally, I was really gutted to see Oscar go - especially in the circumstances. I thought we were watching the start of something really special. He had us playing nice attractive football, but we looked far more potent than under Poyet. We just lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. I said it at the time and I'll say it again - if he wants to, he could be a coach at the highest level.

Sami came in after a month of searching and his appointment is quite a coup for the club, given Hyypia's playing career and then starting out in management as a club like Bayer Leverkusen. It's been a slow start for him, which probably hasn't been helped by a lack of signings. However, we've now started signing players!

We played well in the Sheffield Wednesday game, but just lacked the finishing. Birmingham away was an absolutely awful game, one of the worst performances I have ever seen a Brighton team put on. However, at Leeds away, on Tuesday, we were outstanding and it was arguably one of the best first-half displays from us in a long time. Things are now starting to look up, after the recent signings of Joao Carlos Teixeira, Danny Holla, Paddy McCourt and Joe Bennett.

Q: Having qualified for the play-offs under Garcia and, before him, Gus Poyet, what are the expectations for Hyypia's first season in charge?

A: It's quite funny, really. I'm not a big fan of predictions, but, like I said last year, due to the change of manager, fans have lowered their expectations.

A lack of signings two weeks into the season - mainly the failure to secure Adam Clayton and Stephen Ward - meant that even I, the biggest optimist you'll meet when it comes to Brighton, thought it was going to be a long season. With those signings I've mentioned, along with a couple more, I think we could be a force.

Tony Bloom (owner & chairman) is still targeting a top-six finish. It's a wide range, but I'd say we'll finish somewhere between 4th and 15th.

If Sami can get the right striker in and we can adapt to his style of football, we could challenge around the top. But if it doesn't happen, then it could be a mid-table year for us.

Q: The Seagulls have reportedly pocketed more than £10million through the sales of Leonardo Ulloa and Will Buckley this summer. Having topped the goalscoring charts last season, who, if anybody, is going to fill the void left by Ulloa's move to Leicester City?

A: We're yet to see who will fill the void. We've signed Chris O'Grady and have Craig Mackail-Smith, but we're still to sign the replacement for Ulloa.

O'Grady was signed as a bit of backup/change up option, which I think he will be superb for. After scoring 15 times last season in a very poor Barnsley team, we know he can score a goal. He's big and strong and probably holds the ball up better than Ulloa did. The difference between a good Championship striker, such as O'Grady, and a quality striker, like Ulloa, is taking a half-chance when you need them to. This was probably best epitomised when O'Grady, who had a decent game against Sheffield Wednesday, had a half-chance but couldn't quite finish it. It wasn't an easy chance by any means, but the kind of opportunities your big money striker would gobble up.

We've been linked with Sam Baldock as another option up front. The lad scores goals, but I don't know how we would accommodate O'Grady, Baldock, Mackail-Smith and the Ulloa replacement. We could do a lot worse than getting Glenn Murray back from that lot who play up the road!

Q: Bolton led in this fixture last season, before completely falling apart after conceding three goals in the space of just four minutes. What do you make of Bolton's fall from grace over the last two years and how do you think we'll fare this year?

A: I remember it well! I believe the chant was '1-0 down, 3-1 up, Dougie Freedman f***** it up!' No disrespect to Bolton at all, but it was brilliant to see Freedman mess that one up!

Obviously, you guys know about Bolton much better than me so I don't want to insult your intelligence. Bolton spent quite a bit of time in the Premier League, seemingly had a bit of money and a nice stadium. I'm not quite sure what went wrong and I was surprised you're still in the Championship, but, without the parachute payments, I can't see you guys getting back to the Premier League anytime soon.

Don't jump on me about that - speaking to a few Wanderers fans, that seems to be their opinion too. But this league can be surprising, so who knows?! You might finish in a lower mid-table position, or you might sneak into the play-offs. I really couldn't tell you.

Q: At the time of writing, Wanderers are being linked with moves for Liverpool winger Jordon Ibe and ex-Crewe forward Max Clayton. However, which member of the current squad do you think poses the biggest threat to Brighton this weekend?

A: Both players who I have played against, actually. They are both a similar age to myself and also very good players. Clayton was at Crewe Alexandra when I was at Wolverhampton Wanderers and I played against him a couple of times. I always rated him highly as a striker and still think he could play at the top level. If you could get him, he'd be a brilliant signing.

Anyway, back to the question. You've got some very decent players, to be fair. Players who are seasoned in the Championship and some from even higher levels. Jermaine Beckford is always someone to look out for, but he doesn't usually have particularly good games against us - touch wood! Other players like Joe Mason, Liam Trotter and Neil Danns know the division and all have a decent eye for goal.

However, the one I would say we need to look out for is Craig Davies. He had a spell with us that didn't go too well, but I thought he was alright. It's good to see him doing well, as he is from my home town and even went to the same school as me.

A special mention must also go to Adam Bogdan, who always seems to have a brilliant game against us.

Q: Finally, what is your score prediction for Saturday's game? Can Bolton secure a first win at Brighton in 37 years, or will they have to wait another year?

A: I'm not a big fan of predictions, as you know, but, after the Leeds game, I'm pretty confident.

From what I've heard, you guys had quite a decent game with Middlesbrough in midweek - a team who will more than likely be around the top of the table come May.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say we'll win, but it really could go either way. Our defensive set-up has been very good so far - the only consistency we have had. A lot could depend on who we both sign over the next day or so, but I'll say 2-0 to Brighton.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Chris for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more from him on Twitter - @chrisfield25.

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