It's Fan Focus time! Yes, we're doing them for the League Cup too. With a shortened week, you'd be forgiven for thinking we wouldn't be doing anything, but as far as I'm concerned now, the weekend is over and it's time to look forward.
A trip to Brighton & Hove Albion is a tricky test, or at least it looks that way as the hosts have flown up from League One, and are currently unbeaten in The Championship, but what do we really know about them?
We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott McCarthy from top Brighton & Hove Albion site WeAreBrighton.com to give us the low down on tonight's game, and tell us all about their sexy new stadium, and the sexy football being played in it...
Hello Brighton fans! It’s been an up and down decade or so for Brighton it appears, what’s it been like actually living it?
Scott: Interesting to say the least! Really, the stuff that has been going on on the pitch has taken a bit of a back seat to the letter writing, petitions and marches that we've been through in the battle to get the stadium. Withdean was never going to be able to sustain anything above League One level, so the fact that we had three seasons in the Championship there was miraculous, and since Gus Poyet arrived it's been one of the most exciting periods in the clubs history
After much wrangling you finally have a new stadium. It looks pretty sexy from the outside, what’s it like inside?
Scott: In a word, fantastic. Having waited so long to get permission for the thing and then get it built, chairman Tony Bloom has really gone for the no expense spared attitude. Padded seats, a good atmosphere and the real winner being the pies which we can heartily recommend. People have commented that it doesn't look finished inside, but that's because the club hope to add another 8000 onto capacity at some point in the near future. The only real issue at the moment is the transport, which isn't too bad on a Saturday as the concourse bars remain open afterwards but on a Tuesday night it can be a nightmare with everyone leaving at the same time. Especially if it is a full house which is looking likely for this one
Brighton enjoys a bit of a reputation at the moment as being more “Barcelona & Hove Albion”... thoroughly justified?
Scott: Well, we knock the ball about pretty well! Gus Poyet likes to employ a "tippy tappy" as he calls it style of play which despite some misgivings from some of our more impatient fans has proven to be very effective so far except from at Stoke where we got totally destroyed in the FA Cup last season. Whether the players are good enough to make it work against better opposition this season remains to be seen, but we've started pretty well so that is promising
Gus Poyet – How long does he stay? He’s been linked with moves away every time someone gets sacked elsewhere...
Scott: The one thing you can say about Poyet is he seems to be very loyal. I think he realises that he's got a good thing going here in that he has reshaped the club in his mould, has the backing of the board and fans and a wonderful new stadium to work in. He's said he wants to lead us to the Premier League, and to be honest I don't think he would go unless a very very big Premier League club came in or from somewhere in Spain. He still has Spurs very much in his heart which could be quite worrying should Harry Redknapp end up with the England gig next season
You’re doing well in the league too. Would you want to go straight up again or is it better to be slow and steady?
Scott: There's an element of thought among some of our less ambitious support that they don't want us to be in the top flight as it will turn us into a faceless, corporate club. Most people though have seen that the likes of Burnley, Blackpool, Hull and Norwich have been there and had a thoroughly good time of it. They are all similar sized clubs to what Brighton can be now we've got a stadium, so why not?
On to the game itself – Will Gus Poyet be taking the cup competitions seriously, or will there be changes?
Scott: Last year we played weakened teams in every cup competition including the fifth round of the FA Cup at Stoke. This year though we have a bigger squad and that seems have lead Poyet to believe he can play a full strength side without worrying about injuries and suspicions potentially ruining our league season, so I think its fair to say you can expect to come up against what he considers to be the best team for the day
Who from the Albion side do you think will give us the most problems?
Scott: Craig Mackail-Smith doesn't seem to stop running and will put defenders under all kinds of pressure. Our most problematic players are the three wide men though as they are pacey, tricky and have already caused plenty of issues for defenders this season. Poyet only starts with one of them though and with the other two usually coming off the bench to change the game, so whichever of Craig Noone, Will Buckley and Kazenga LuaLua gets onto the pitch will be ones to look out for
I’m hoping we take the cup seriously this year, but it’s not likely. Regardless of which team we send out, what sort of game are you expecting, and what do you think the score will be?
I'd imagine that we will dominate possession a fair bit and put you under some serious pressure. One concern is our lack of fit centre backs - we only have two and one of those, Lewis Dunk, has only played a handful games in League One before this season. When teams come and attack us at home (something which rarely happened last year) we look vulnerable as Blackpool showed on Saturday when they came back from 2-0 down. If it's a full strentgh Sunderland side that I'd expect you guys to become the first opposition to win a competitve game at The Amex, and to be honest I would be quite happy with that as with only one more game before Crystal Palace visit the chances of them taking that bragging right are getting closer and closer.
Many thanks to Scott for taking time out to chat with us, and to get your fix of Brighton business, head on over to www.WeAreBrighton.com, and give them a follow on Twitter - @WeAreBrighton - they're thoroughly nice folks.