Football FanCast columnist Scott McCarthy reflects on the appointment of Gus Poyet.
Gambling is a way of life for Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom. The multi-millionaire amassed his fortune as a professional gambler and poker player, gaining the nickname ‘The Lizard’ in the process for his alligator-blood approach to the game.
It is therefore hardly a surprise that Bloom has taken this attitude into the world of football by handing ex-Chelsea and Tottenham star Gus Poyet his first manager’s post as Russell Slade’s replacement at the struggling League One outfit.
Despite a considerable spending spree over the summer, Slade couldn’t continue the miraculous form that made him a popular figure at the club when somehow guiding the Seagulls to survival from the dreaded drop to League Two that up until the middle of April looked a certainty. Bloom has acted swiftly, replacing the cult hero with a man whose playing qualities were obvious, but whose management ones are yet to be tested.
Poyet couldn’t have asked for a much tougher start than the one he faces – away games at Southampton and Norwich are mixed in with home ties against Leeds and Charlton, while the Seagulls enjoy shipping goals for fun almost as much as they do red cards, having conceded 27 and seen 7 men dismissed already this season.
While the next month or so will be a tough examination of Poyet’s credentials, the long term future looks a lot brighter for the former Uruguayan international. Bloom’s fortune and love for the club means he can expect to be given healthy backing financial, a new stadium, also funded by the chairman to the tune of £93m is well underway and will be open for business in 2011, and with no other club within a 50 miles radius of the city, the potential for Brighton and Hove Albion is huge.
Poyet will no doubt take heart from his former Chelsea team mate Roberto Di Matteo. Appointed as boss as Milton Keynes Dons last season, an affluent club with a large amount of potential not dissimilar to the Seagulls, the Italian flourished and despite failing to earn promotion, received rave reviews for his teams style of play and with it secured a move to West Bromwich Albion, where he remains on course to return the Baggies to the Premiership.
Despite having no previous experience as a boss, Poyet has worked as number two to Dennis Wise at both Swindon and Leeds, and it was following his departure from Elland Road in order to return to Tottenham as Juande Ramos’ number two that saw Wise’s sides championship bid collapse, stating many people to claim that it was Poyet who was behind the team’s success.
His coaching credentials are clear, but it is a very different ball game making the step up to being a number one as many highly qualified and well respected assistants have found out. The conditions are all there for Poyet to succeed – he has the money, the backing and the support to cement his reputation as a top quality coach and potentially a manager who could follow his close friend Gianfranco Zola into the Premier League.
The only question is, can he repay Tony Bloom’s gamble? Exciting times could be just around the corner for fans of the Seagulls if ‘The Lizard’ has got this one right