With the impending first game under new head coach Gus Poyet, Saturday's trip to Swansea, we thought it was time to take a look at the two backroom members of staff Poyet brought with him from his time at Brighton, Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway.
First up, Mauricio Taricco.
Taricco started his career at Argentinos Juniors, the same club Julio Arca and Nicolas Medina arrived on Wearside from but only lasted one year before he was snapped up by Ipswich Town. A tough tackling, attacking full back, Taricco had a very successful time in Suffolk, being voted the club's 'Supporters' Player of the Season' in 1997 but left for White Hart Lane in 1999.
He played over 150 times for the North London club and it was at Spurs where he met Gus Poyet. After Tottenham he was signed by Alan Pardew at West Ham. However a hamstring injury less than 30 minutes into his debut meant he would be ruled out for some time, which prompted Taricco to go to the unusual step of offering to cancel his contract;
I came to West Ham to be of service to the club, and I obviously won't be able to contribute if I'm having treatment for over two months.
A gesture which West Ham accepted and led Pardew to praise Taricco and remark that it was the most honest thing he'd known a player to do.
After a short spell in a lower leagues in Italy, where he captained A.S. Villasimius, Taricco retired from playing for a spell before joining Brighton in 2010 as Gus Poyet's assistant manager. A spell that included him coming out of retirement as a player for the first time in six years, being sent off against Woking, retiring again in 2011, coming out of retirement again a month later, being sent off against Southampton and then retiring again.
During his playing days, Taricco was often a controversial character. Being involved in spitting and diving disputes against Sheffield United whilst at Ipswich, he also left Everton's Thomas Gravesen needing 30 stitches after a horror tackle while playing for Spurs and even confronted the then Blackburn manager Graeme Souness on the touchline during a game, which led to both being charged by the FA. Such incidents help explain why Robbie Savage once said of Taricco;
Playing against Mauricio Taricco was enough to make a saint swear.
During his time as assistant manager at Brighton, Taricco gave an interview where he explained the shared football philosophy he has with Poyet;
I think the ideas that he's got and the way he treats players is the right way. I like what his thoughts were when he was a player. So I think he's got some interesting thoughts and personally I think he'll do well, very well. But time will tell.
I think it's harder to play the right way...well, I wouldn't call it The Right Way, I would call it the way we like. So, yes, it is harder because just getting the ball from the back and just kicking it forward and running, you can do it and you don't risk too much. But keeping it on the floor and trying to pass the way through team, it takes a lot more from you. It takes a lot more of risk at the back. When I was a defender, if you get the ball and you kick it forward as soon as somebody comes close to you it's easier than waiting for the right time to pass it through people. Close to the area as well, if you make a mistake you totally get punished and you can concede.
So it is harder. But that's why we like it because we can dominate games doing that and that's the way we want this club to play and hopefully we have the chairman and the players, of course, that share our view. We think so because we've talked a lot about with players and we all think that's the way so we're going to keep playing that way. Obviously during the season there are times when you can play and there are times when you're going to have to go a little bit different but mainly we want to have the identity, like you said, like Arsenal has, like other teams have, to play football and we would like that.
He also gave some details into how Brighton's transfer dealings worked under Poyet;
It's more the gaffer and the scout system that will be looking for players and watching games everywhere, really, and trying to identify that player that can help us.
We don't sign any old player, or just a left-sided player or a striker, we want THE striker, we want THE left-winger. So we are very careful, because of the way we play we want the player that can give us exactly what we need and not just one more player to fill a space in the squad, that's not our way.
Taricco wasn't the only member of staff to follow Poyet to the Stadium of Light, with Charlie Oatway also joining the club.
Charlie, or to give him his full name, Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James Oatway, was named after the full 1973 QPR team.
A tough tackling midfielder during his playing days, Oatway started his career at non-league Yeading and eventually joined Brighton after relatively short spells at Cardiff, Torquay, Brentford and Lincoln. He played 229 times for the South Coast club, during which he won a couple of lower league championships and a play-off final, before his professional career was cut short by injuries.
It was while he was at Cardiff that Oatway had a spell in prison, after he got into a fight in a bar after sticking up for a friend (a former QPR player) who had been racially abused. Oatway was sent to prison after the friend skipped court and robbed him of his main witness.
After he retired and was unsure what to do next, Brighton encouraged him to join the 'Albion in the Community' scheme, which he did and from there he got into coaching. He had a spell at Havant and Waterlooville as player/assistant manager but left to join Gus Poyet's coaching staff in 2009.
When he re-joined Brighton as a coach, he admitted that he didn't think Poyet could be successful in the lower leagues by playing a passing game;
I remember talking about it to Gus and Tano (Mauricio Toricco) and telling them I didn't think they could achieve what they wanted playing the way they wanted. That shows how much I know.
Then Oatway quickly saw behind the scenes how much of an effect Poyet style was having on the team;
I have had to learn to accept the new approach in the same way the fans have. I might not have been convinced to begin with but even after eight to ten games you could see the impact Gus was having. It might have not been so obvious on the pitch, but at training and round the club in general you could see things changing for the better.
One of Oatway's most important roles at Brighton was keeping up team spirit and helping their foreign players, like ex-Spanish international Vicente settle at the club;
There are things you need to do differently. I have (had) to try and help people settle in, sort out English lessons for them and make sure they feel part of it here.
If anything you have to help the foreign players feel even more at home then everyone else.
With Paolo Di Canio's reign having ended and his rules about 'no joking and smiling' being a thing of the past, the players will no doubt enjoy Oatway's more relaxed approach to coaching, as he explained during his time at Brighton;
Oh we get them chuckling as well don't you worry about that.
There are hand signals and other ways of getting your point across. We have a great bunch here and everyone joins in.
With Poyet bringing a new style of play to the team and a more relaxed atmosphere in training, Oatway and Taricco are sure to be key figures if the club is to start climbing the table.