34 Years of Waiting Nearly Over

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City. Saturday 12th August. 5.30pm American Express Community Stadium

Friendlies all played. New signings safely installed. Are the Albion ready for the big kick off this weekend?

As fans, we know all about the strength of character and togetherness of this team and how it has developed and grown over the last two seasons However, the opening game on Saturday against Citeh represents the biggest challenge yet and will tell us an awful lot about the character and make up of this slightly new-look team. Having had a couple of seasons of imperious form, with teams coming to us expecting to shut up shop and nick something on the break, is the team ready to adopt that role themselves. This makes the selection of Atletico Madrid an inspired one by Chris Hughton. Surely they must take plenty of confidence from how they approached that game and, more to the point, how they held their own, particularly second half. But for a couple of very uncharacteristic errors, the game could easily have been won.

Now, those errors. If they remain part of the furniture for this season, Albion are doomed. We all have to believe that balls slipping through the keeper’s hands and allowing unmarked headers from 6 yards to accomplished internationals is not something that will happen very often. If it does, we are all in for a long hard season. But I believe that is not something that will happen at all often and I can see us being competitive in many matches, including against the big boys.

So, apart from some embarrassing moment that I hopefully won’t be commonplace, the defensive performance against Madrid was excellent. On the attacking front, particularly once Solly and Knockaert were on, we looked a real force. And with set pieces from Gross and the newly installed Propper to come, I think Albion are always going to be in with a chance of scoring.

Another striker would be nice. But only because Baldock’s injury seems a persistent one and we need a player of his speed and guile to complete the picture. Maybe Gross and/or Propper can fill that role more than ably with Hemed and Murray providing the spearhead we need to get goals. As Sidwell showed, as long as you get in the right place, with crosses like the ones March and Gross were throwing in, those two are more than capable of finding the net.

All great in theory. But we are now only a few days away from reality. Let’s hope we can continue our under the radar approach and start off with a big scalp on day one!

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