Brilliant Brighton. And get Reidy back to Everton.

Published: Monday, 30 January 2023

Brilliant Brighton. What a ride their fans have been enjoying these past few years. And I couldn’t be happier for them.

Brighton was a regular haunt of mine in my late teens and early twenties. My eldest sister lived there and every other weekend I’d make the trip to see her from my London base. I loved the place and I’ve had a soft spot for the city of Brighton and Hove - to give it the correct title - ever since.

An old Coventry stalwart - Chris Carlin - played and managed there - so that helped me cement an affection for the club and a trip to The Goldstone Ground as a young reporter was always a treat. I felt like I was going home on many subsequent visits. My most recent was in 2018 to see my Super Sky Blues get turned over in an FA Cup tie. It’s fair to say I was none too pleased with the result - but my host, Darren Bloom, was his usual ebullient and generous self. It was a lovely day out.

Tony is a dream of an owner. He picked Brighton up off the floor. They’d had a miserable time following the closure of the Goldstone in 1997. Trips to Gillingham were followed by home games at the Withdean Stadium. I went there to watch Coventry as well.

There are other heroes to mention, apart from Bloom - Steve Coppell for instance, who worked miracles at the club - but in the end what’s happened is down to Tony and his brother Darren.

I wasn’t too happy when they sacked Chris Hughton and I told them so. But they were right. Graham Potter took it on and now Roberto De Zerbi is doing the same. Roberto who? we all asked. Appointing De Zerbi was a brave call. It’s also quite an achievement to keep selling your best players and yet remain competitive. Arguably get better, which is what Brighton have done.

It’s a well run club and I hope they go on to win the trophy this year. I was at Wembley in 1983 when Jimmy Melia’s side - Robinson and ‘Smith must score’ - took United to a replay. They came up short turn then.

I’d love to see them go one better now - but it’s a big call. Only Leicester and Wigan have broken the dominance of the big 4 in the last decade - so it can be done - but it’s a big ask. When it gets serious the big boys tend to come out to play and make life intolerable for the rest.

Not that Liverpool will be doing that this season. What on earth has happened at Anfield? Nobody expected such a calamitous meltdown, but Andy Robertson is right - it’s only getting worse.

I’m not going to suggest that Klopp should go - but this all falls at his door. He should’ve seen it coming. That’s what the best do. It’s what made Fergie great. He’d dismantle teams at the peak of their powers. He knew exactly when to do surgery. And that’s why I’ve always been convinced he knew he was leaving a bang ordinary team behind when he retired. This painful decade for United has only served to underline what an extra-ordinary period his time in charge was. I’ve always believed Fergie knew what he was doing when he walked. His previous record at re-building tells you that. I’m not a fan - but I’ve also always said he was the best ever. Guardiola isn’t in the same class.

City are still in it of course and I hope they continue to want to win it. I hope Spurs give it a go. Eddie Howe missed a trick when he named a weaker team and got dumped out in round 3. I know he’s a whisker from a League Cup final - but there are no guarantees. United’s hunger to win that is just as strong as Newcastle’s. I’m sorry Forest fans - the s/f is over. You know it is. But why didn’t Howe give it a go in the FA Cup? Strange.

Klopp puts a huge part of Liverpool’s demise down to chasing too many trophies last season. He might be right. His team look tired. But I hope what’s happened doesn’t deter others from having a go at trying to win all the prizes.

One way to keep the big clubs attention is to drop replays. We don’t need them. They’re an out-dated old fashioned throw back to an era when football was very different. Times change. Going to penalties at the end of extra-time is a much better way to sort things out.  ‘Ah - but you deny the little clubs money and glory’ say the critics of that idea. Really? Ask Wrexham what they would’ve preferred Sunday. They might be in the hat on their own for the fifth round now. What a climax that would’ve been to what was a terrific game v Sheffield United. The Hollywood ending that most are bemoaning we didn’t get.

Welcome back Sean Dyche. Everton dodged a bullet when Bielsa said ‘no’. What planet does that guy live on? He wanted to take the under-21’s before stepping up to the first team in the summer? I hope Everton didn’t pay for his flight if he muted that idea before coming to London. Mad. Completely mad. So was Moshiri for going down that path in the first place.

Dyche is a safe pair of hands. Lampard did the job he was asked to complete last season - and I’m sorry to see him go, but it was inevitable.

It’s going to get tight again - but Dyche will get a Everton out of trouble. The first decision I’d make would be to get Peter Reid involved at the club again. Reid is a blue legend as we all know. An Everton die-hard. It’s going to get bumpy for Dyche. If he had Reid about the club to explain what was happening he’d keep the hard core fed-up faithful on board. Sadly they’ve lost respect for Graeme Sharp after recent events.

Reid wouldn’t pull any punches. He’d tell it straight. He worked as a loyal lieutenant to Tony Pulis at Stoke - and Paul Cook at Wigan. I was surprised Sam Allardyce didn’t turn to him during his time in charge at Everton. Reid would be a breath of fresh air around Goodison and no threat to anyone. Think about it eh Sean?