• Potterís Magic Wand: Can the New Gaffer Get Forgotten Trio of Seagulls Flying High?

    Whether you were a Chris Hughton truther or someone who was against our former manager, one thing we can all agree on is that for Albion to progress and move forward we need to be a heck of a lot more dynamic in the final third of the pitch. Only the three relegated teams scored fewer goals than us last season, and our average of less than one goal per game on home soil was bordering on the criminal.

    "Brighton - Amex Stadium - Jan 2014 - Sta" (CC BY 2.0) by Gareth1953 All Right Now

    Weíre not saying that we expect Manchester City-style football from another planet, just a more front-foot approach that at least sees us attempt to carve out chances from open play that donít revolve plonking the ball on Glenn Murrayís head every time we cross the halfway line.

    The pessimists would argue that we simply donít have the personnel to play in such a vein, and thatís why Hughton opted for a more conservative strategy. And perhaps that's why we found ourselves in such peril at the wrong end of the table, and also why we are the fifth favourites to suffer the dreaded drop this term according to the sports betting odds, where we are rated a 19/10 chance to finish in the Premier League's bottom three.

    Maybe what we need is to be more proactive in the final third, and lest we forget that this is a squad that contains three players, typically overlooked, who really could make a difference to our attacking play. Florin Andone, Jose Izquierdo and Alireza Jahanbakhsh were barely given a sniff of first-team action under the former manager, and yet all surely have plenty to offer. Indeed, the decision to ship Anthony Knockaert out to Fulham on loan suggests the latter pair might be given a go under Graham Potter on the flanks.

    So, what can this trio offer in the forthcoming season, and can they herald a change of offensive principals under a more forward-thinking manager?

    Andone's Role

    Standing just 5ft 9in tall, Andone was unlikely to dislodge Murray in Hughtonís affections for a burly target man to make defendersí lives a nightmare. But those of shorter stature can act as an outlet; the Romanianís tireless work ethic and running of the channels could be a genuine asset for Potterís back-to-front style.

    He is not prolific by any means: a career goal record of roughly one-in-three is testament to that. And Andone managed just 18 in 69 appearances for Deportivo La Coruna, so we donít have a goal machine on our hands.

    But thereís more than one way for a striker to prove his worth, and besides scoring in back-to-back games against Huddersfield and Crystal Palace in December, the 26-year-old hinted that he does have an eye for goal. Usurping a club legend like Glenn Murray is no easy task, but as effective Plan Bs go, Andone could yet prove to be a handy option.

    Jahanbakhsh's potential

    Anyone who saw the 5-2 pre-season win over FC Liefering will have been given a timely reminder of the talents of Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The Iranian was in fine fettle, assisting two of our goals and generally looking very lively indeed down either flank. And thatís the key to Jahanbakhsh: he has the ability to thrive on either side of the pitch.

    With Knockaert gone and question marks over the fitness of Jurgen Locadia, the 25-year-old should get more chances to shine this term after his 2018/19 campaign was derailed by a hamstring injury that just didnít seem to go away. After all, this is a player who was the top scorer in the Eredivisie in 2017/18 with 21 goals and who also ranked third for assists despite not playing for one of the Dutch 'big three' in Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. However, the arrival of Leandro Trossard will provide more him with more competition.

    Jahanbakhsh has got that X-Factor that all creative players need; letís hope he gets a chance to prove it under Potter.

    Fully Fit Izquierdo

    Injuries have also waylaid Jose Izquierdo of late. The Colombian suffered a nasty knee problem in the summer last year, and that bled into the start of the season which ensured he could not be a feature in the starting eleven. And he suffered a recurrence around Christmas time: a source of huge frustration given that his form was improving at the time.

    Perhaps weíre being a bit harsh because Hughton didnít really have a chance to utilise the 27-year-old, and thatís a great shame because he clearly has plenty to offer. Izquierdo scored three times and assisted four more in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign, and if we can get him fully fit for a prolonged period of time then the Colombian will surely be an outstanding asset for the club.

    Intelligent use of these three players by Potter can help the Seagulls to soar this season.
  • Advertising