Right, here goes, the big one is on the horizon so we had good chat with Ady from the excellent Brighton radio show Albion Roar about the season so far, thoughts on the game and much more.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season?
It was a game of two halves!! The first half was okay and we were on course for a top half finish but then from January onwards, our form fell off a cliff and we ended up on 36 points which is not usually enough to keep you up. The run to the FA Cup Semi Final kind of papered over the cracks.
So, there was a feeling of frustration and the complete capitulation at home to Bournemouth and then losing at home to Cardiff a few days later was enough for Tony Bloom to call time on Chris Hughton’s tenure. The time was right for a change but Chris left with his head held high. His objective was to keep us up and he succeeded.
Q. What were your hopes for the season and how does that compare with how the season has gone so far?
Our hopes before a ball was kicked in anger were to finish as high above the dotted line as possible. The change in manager brought a seismic shift in attitude though. Under Hughton you felt that we were just treading water with the objective being survival. The hierarchy at the club have ambitions to be a top ten club and you just felt that Chris had taken us as far as he could.
It is going okay at the moment but Graham Potter himself has said we are a team in transition and learning a different way to play. From what we have seen so far, we are definitely looking up rather than down but there is no guarantee that we won’t get sucked into the danger zone. As I write this we are only four points above the drop zone but only five points off fifth.
Q. Was Graham Potter the first choice for the club to replace Chris Hughton?
We believe so, yes. When we appointed Dan Ashworth, he saw the amount of money that was being invested in the development squad and there was not really much of a pathway to the first team. We saw the job that Potter was doing at Swansea and at Östersunds and that he was not only giving youth a chance but he was making the players at his disposal better.
It was a risk taking a young English manager from the Championship but if it is successful, other clubs may follow the same path.
Q. How has Potter done since taking over?
The fact that he has been given a contract extension less than six months into his reign speaks volumes. It is still very much a work in progress but we have been impressed with him so far. Two players have already been brought in from the development squad and not only have they made their first team debuts but they have also got full international caps!
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club? Were all needs addressed?
It is starting to make sense. Potter likes players that are tactically flexible and are able to adapt to the various changes in shape and tactics throughout a game.
We brought in Leandro Trossard from Genk who the Belgians see as the heir apparent to Eden Hazard. Neal Maupay arrived from Brentford and after a hit and miss start is beginning to find his feet. Adam Webster came from Bristol City and Aaron Mooy came on loan from Huddersfield and has started to become more and more important.
We are lacking width at times & that is something that needs to be looked at.
Q. The introduction of VAR this season has not gone to plan so far – what is your view of the system and how it is being used?
Nobody likes it do they?
The issue is not the VAR system itself but the laws of the game that were not designed to be micromanaged.
The offside rule was designed to stop goal hanging. Is a player REALLY getting an advantage by having his left gonad a millimetre ahead of his opponent? It certainly isn’t clear and obvious!
Nobody can decide what a penalty is. The linesmen cannot make up their minds whether they have to put their flags up or not and you can have a goal ruled out for just having bigger feet. No wonder Peter Crouch retired!
It’s a mess.
Q. One to watch for Brighton this season?
With the pathway opening up from the development squad we are hoping to see a few more make the step up but this season. We have seen Aaron Connelly get given his chance to shine and he has taken it. He is far from the finished article but we are very excited about him.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
If I was going to chose one it would probably be Luka Milivojevic. He appears to be your metronome and everything goes through him
Your number 11 is not bad but plays with a look on his face like he’s just remembered that he has left the gas on!
Q. Which Brighton player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the game?
Neal Maupay is playing with a lot more confidence and could be one to watch but I have a feeling that Aaron Mooy could really step up to the plate in this game
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
Clearly Hodgson is doing an excellent job on what appears to be quite a limited budget.
We thought that the Zaha saga in the summer may hurt you. If he stays, you’ve got a player that doesn’t want to be there. If he goes, is the money going to be reinvested in the team? As it turns out he isn’t sulking and we know what a special player he can be.
I think the reality for Palace this season, as it is for us, is to try and be as far above the dotted line as possible
Q. We are sure you have to describe this derby game as much as we do so how do you go about it?
Ha ha, just a bit!!
There can be a lot of negativity surrounding this fixture and we know that idiots from both sides of the divide can come out of the woodwork but we tend to focus on the positives.
With the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund coming up to its 19th year, the charity continues to grow and the annual match between Brighton and Palace fans remains as fun and competitive as ever.
Did you know that when Croydon Football Club was got broken into in April, the REMF donated £2,000 to help get them back on their feet ?
Q. Favourite derby moment?
Doing the double last season was pretty sweet but I think my favourite moment was David Lopez free kick in 2013.
Q. Your prediction?
Not expecting a classic. Both teams are pretty evenly matched at the moment. I would be happy with a 1-0 away win.