• Brighton’s Problems – Coaching or Poor Squad?

    NSC is currently full of debate around whether we are under achieving and, if we are, is it Graham Potter’s fault. One thing that some have said, supposedly in Potter’s favour is that the squad of players we have are not good enough. But does that hold up? Here I go through Friday night’s team and their direct competition, player by player to see if that holds water. Let’s start with the keeper.

    Mat Ryan

    Too small. It’s an NSC trope with some using it ironically and others using it as a stick to beat with, but in reality it’s Ryan’s Moneyball weakness. Just as Oakland didn’t care if you threw funny or were old so long as you can get on base, so we have gone for a keeper with good reflexes and excellent distribution who is just a bit too (relatively) small to command the box at set pieces. We saw this against Burnley where their only real chances came from sticking corners under Ryan’s nose and a mis-hit cross.

    However, he is VERY good at the things we bought him for. In the Premier League the bar is fairly low (luckily for Mat, ha ha) when you consider Pickford plays for England and Ryan is certainly no worse than his lower table peers and considerably better than one or two. But we do concede far too many from set pieces and that’s not just the centre backs’ fault.

    Tariq Lamptey

    Everyone loves Lamp.

    Quick, able to cover every blade of grass and a real attacking threat, he was mentioned in commentary again as a full international candidate and emerging star. Certainly good enough for the Premier League, we need to treasure him for now before he leaves for a really big club.

    Ben White

    #3BenWhite was plucked from the mighty Leeds United after a season winning the Championship as one of their best players. Since returning home he’s had a tough time of it, partly as a result of being played out of position. Here is Potter conundrum number one. White and Veltman cannot both play RCB and that might mean White playing midfield and keeping out Alzate. However, a massive bid for him from The Leeds and a supposed one in the pipeline from Liverpool certainly means White isn’t in the “not good enough” camp either.

    Joel Veltman

    Dutch international who was playing with Ajax last season, Veltman was eased in slowly but has come to the fore with Dunk’s suspension. With his pedigree, he is the sort of player other clubs used to sign. The only question is why did we sign him and recall White? Two into one won’t go and one must be out of position or dropped. Not the fault of either player.

    Adam Webster

    A Ł20 million player who divides opinion. Potter thinks him good enough to be captain and he chips in with the odd goal at the right end but has a frustrating habit of giving the ball away and we have been obviously bad at defending set pieces for a long time. I like him, others don’t.

    Dan Burn (Solly March / Bernardo)

    Not a wingback in a million years and not a particularly good left back, BDB is our first square peg in a round hole. I have literally no idea what Potter sees in it. March, on the other hand, is probably best off at LWB and has had a number of good games there, notably against Man United. Nevertheless, his yard of pace has been lacking since his ACL. And Bernardo? No one is suggesting he should be in ahead of Burn which says it all. A real problem position for the manager.

    Yves Bissouma

    Has been getting better and better and is keeping out a full Dutch international in Propper. At his best he’s even more of a star than Lamptey. At his worst he’s that guy who got sent off against Newcastle. Still a player I would see going on to better things. There are certainly far worse players in the Premier League.

    Pascal Gross

    One wag called him “treacle boots”. Just as Ryan’s Moneyball weakness is height, so Pascal’s is pace. Nevertheless he has the best Cruyff turn in the league and a habit of setting up goals, as well as a ridiculous work rate closing down. A bargain signing at the time and still a PL quality squad player. He is VERY slow though.

    Adam Lallana

    Anyone saying Lallana isn’t good enough hasn’t been paying attention to football. Former England and Liverpool player who already looks classy, if anything he’s only diminished by Potter’s over elaborate style, as shown by his passing to Maupay against WBA when he should have shot.

    Danny Welbeck

    Again, Welbeck’s credentials are well documented and many on NSC were calling for him to be signed. Looked good in flashes against Burnley. Is still only 29 years old and will be an excellent signing if he can stay fit.

    Neal Maupay

    Another who divides NSC. In the “pro” column we have the guy who scored ten goals for a lower mid table side on his debut Premier League season, who had four goals in four games at the start of this, who ended Sideshow Bob II’s career with goals and mockery, who creates space and opportunities and who generally lives up to the title Le Petit Shithouse. For others he’s not good enough, misses chances and has an attitude problem. I am in camp one and one of my best mates is in camp two. I see his goals, his wummery, his link up play. Matey sees his misses.

    But whatever you think, he is what NSC was asking for. Sign a striker we said. Ideally one that has played in England and scored goals. And we did. My biggest concern after Spurs is that Potter will try and take all the things that make Neal, Neal out of him in the name of harmony. That would be a massive mistake.

    The Rest

    We have Dutch international Propper, perhaps too slow, perhaps too mistake prone. But, nevertheless, how many of our division rivals would have him on their bench? At least one or two, given one of them signed up Stephens. Trossard is a full international with the best international team in the world, though admittedly in their back up team. When he’s good he’s a mini Hazard. When he’s bad – or played out of position – he’s anonymous. And he can’t finish. Still, though, one of the most creative players in the squad. Connolly is still learning but is a full international with Premier League goals behind him. I still strongly believe that Ali J was a huge waste of money. Not good enough for the Premier League. And the other Ally, our Scotch Argentine? A useful sub but I’m really not convinced that 10 minutes a game is going to teach him anything. Alzate looked superb paired with Bissouma at the start of the season. I have no idea at all why he has been dropped to the bench. Initially I thought “to make room for Ben White” but last night he could easily have played in the Gross role. Genuinely flummoxing from our coach.

    Overall Summary

    So, do we REALLY have a poor squad? For me we have a decent enough one with some obvious pain points. Our strikers are nowhere near top of the table quality. Maupay, Welbeck and Trossard as a front three or Son, Kane and Bale? Or Mane, Firmino and Salah? But we don’t operate at that level. Did Barnes and Wood really do much last night? Did Palace survive a whole season without a real recognised goal scoring striker? Didn’t we spend seasons laughing at Pat Bamford, who looked like he was aiming for the golden boot for a few games before becoming the posh boy with no finishing again on Monday night?

    Left wing back is another. It’s Solly or bust and he’s not going to be a world beater every game.
    What we have, IMO, is a bits and pieces squad. Two players for every position under Hughton has become two positions for every player under Potter. Now, that can be a good thing but it can also lead to the malaise that initially struck cricket teams who were asked to pick a separate one day squad and ended up filling them with bowlers who could bat a bit and batsmen who could bowl a bit,

    At its extremes we can adapt our play to almost any situation and retain the ball and cause problems. Or, especially if you take the devil out of Maupay, you can end up with the footballing equivalent of a beige cardigan, with only Lamptey to provide the odd attempt at a stylish go-faster stripe.




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    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Harry Wilson's tackle's Avatar
      Harry Wilson's tackle -
      Very nice post. I disagree with only two points (which is hardly the point since your post was about our squad in general, but I'll carry on anyway). I really like Ali J. Clever player. He is a good and early crosser when playing wide and with Welbeck in the mix this might offer an alternative to the endless intricate passing that signalled the demise of Wenger at the Arse. And I think there may be a future for the little ******* you didn't mention. Flozza. All the best - and I hope you're feeling a bit better
    1. Chicken Run's Avatar
      Chicken Run -
      Quote Originally Posted by Guinness Boy View Post
      Link?
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