Brighton Half-Term Report: We Need Macheda Or Zamora In January For Promotion

Things are looking up for the Seagulls, with a committed team and a great manager. For a successful Premier League bid season though some extra goalscoring firepower is sorely needed.


 Team:Brighton And Hove Albion

What's going right?

The stadium is full. The city is still buzzing with Seagulls-mania after years of football-related humdrum for Brighton and Hove Albion. The team are committed and focussed; adhering to Gus Poyet's neat passing principles and regularly bossing matches as a consequence.

What's not?

We can't score. For all our patient and probing approach play, we distinctly lack a cutting edge in front of goal. Some games have been ridiculous - we've had all the possession and all the impetus, but lost because we've failed to convert it into goals. Furthermore, this causes us a wider problem, because if a team nicks a goal early on against us, they can literally sit 11 men behind the ball and stifle us. We struggle to break teams down when this happens - which is all too often of late - and it becomes utterly frustrating for all involved.

Got the right manager?

Yes. Gustavo Poyet is a tactical visionary and a great character. He has transformed the club from grass roots up and with a new training ground in the offing, will soon have us properly set up to join the elite. I feel he could show the fans a bit more affection at times, but you can't have it all. One thing's for sure: he will be a Premier League manager within three years. I just hope it is with the Albion rather than another club.

Star player?

Our actual star player hasn't been seen since May, but more about that later... There are several others who do deserve special mention: Liam Bridcutt continues to excel in his holding midfield role - I'm convinced he will play for England one day. Bridcutt is certainly better than Tottenham's Jake Livermore, who plays in the same position and does, inexplicably, already have a full international cap.

Meanwhile, you literally cannot fault Craig Mackail-Smith's superhuman effort - but he's like a dog with a balloon at times. CMS is a livewire, sure, and he must be a nightmare to mark. But end product is often missing.

Elsewhere, Will Buckley has been awesome on the left of a front three; he's an old-school winger who glides to the by-line, committing defenders and drawing fouls aplenty.

Wayne Bridge, who we've loaned from Man City, has been a revelation- he's a class act, and seems to be really enjoying his football again. However, money talks, and I can't see him joining us full time when his contract is up at The Etihad.

However, all of those aforementioned have been eclipsed by the performances of Adam El-Abd, who is my player of the year so far. An unheralded defender who has been at the club since he was knee high to a grasshopper, the recently inducted Egypt international has improved immeasurably under Poyet. Clever, cunning and powerful, he has been rock-solid this season, man-marking some of the best forwards the Championship has thrown at him. I haven't seen El-Abd have a bad game in 18 months.

Who would you like to sell in January?

There's some dead wood that needs to be shipped out. Roman Vincelot and Matt Sparrow haven't featured this season, and Gary Dicker remains the most pointless professional footballer I've ever seen.

More...12,000 Pies & 14,000 Pints: Brighton & Hove Albion Are Spoiling Their FansBrighton & Hove Albion And Crystal Palace: The Unlikely Rivalry That Sparked A War

Who do you want to sign?

We need a goal poacher who can capitalise on our possession and feed off the fruits of Mackail-Smith's labour. In an ideal world, we'll re-sign Bobby Zamora at some stage. He'd be perfect as a goalscoring target man, notwithstanding the romanticism his return would spark.

In reality, however, we are more likely to nab an in-form lower league marksman like Port Vale's Tom Pope, or enter into a loan deal for an out of favour Premier League striker like Federico Macheda.

Best chant so far?

"Ole ole ole ole, Bruno, Bruno."

This uplifting song has been popular in the North Stand at the Amex of late, championing the work of our follically-challenged Spanish full back Bruno Salter, who has shown plenty of verve and energy since signing from Valencia in the summer.

This chant is all the more popular because it has effectively replaced the same one we used to sing to Vicente, the former Spanish international, about whom there is growing disillusionment. Vicente is by far our best player, but has not been seen in blue and white stripes this season. His sabbatical is due to 'injury' (and definitely not a contract dispute) insists Poyet.

Best opposition player / team you've seen this season?

Team:- I was personally impressed with Middlesbrough, who admittedly scored early and sat deep during their 0-1 win at the Amex in October, but showed plenty of mettle and were very lively up front.

Player:- Crystal Palace's French showpony Yannick Bolasie has a box of tricks and was a constant source of creativity for the Eagles, as they trounced us 3-0 in early December.

Biggest **** of the season

Glenn Murray, our former striker who left two summers ago for a bigger wage at rivals Crystal Palace.
He's since been nothing short of sensational, banging them in - literally left, right and centre - at Selhurst Park. In fairness he hardly celebrated the two goals he scored against us early in December, which was a nice touch.

But watching his predatory instincts week after week on the Football League Show serves as a constant reminder of what we're lacking. FFS MURRAY.

End of season prediction

Our campaign  has so far mirrored last season's: starting brilliantly and cruising to the top of the table in August and September, but then enduring a sobering lull in mid-winter.

We recovered last term, narrowly missing out on the play-offs in the end. But this time it's going to take a couple of quality attacking signings in January if we are to go on the run of victories that would jet-propel us into the big league. I do believe we have a stronger squad than last year, so in conclusion: we'll scrape into the play-offs. Once we're there, anything is possible.