Tag Archives: Brighton & Hove Albion

Tactics: the Brighton Break-down, or why Seagulls are sus…

We can’t afford to let our guard down against a side that is looking at a chance at qualifying for a European spot for the first time in its history. De Zerbi has his side playing positive, incisive football depsite being the anti-Chelsea, selling key players and replacing them astutely. Tottenham’s recent wobble can only intensify the Seagull’s hunger for climbing the table, and we’d do well to prepare for a scene out of Hitchcock rather than a cakewalk.

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Brighton do Arsenal a massive favour…but also circle the wagons…

Um, Luke? That’s not how the Hand of God goes…

First, let’s get the schadenfreude celebrating out of the way. Courtesy of Man U’s 1-0 loss to the Seagulls, it’s now all but impossible for those devils to finish above us. Yes, they can match us on points, but we’d have to lose every last match while they win all of theirs while also overcoming our vastly superior goal difference. What’s more, Brighton, with two matches in hand, have overtaken Tottenham, sending those spuds down to seventh.

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Forget Caicedo. It’s Rice or bust.

Tantalus has nothing on the Arsenal when it comes to transfer rumours, even less when it comes to finding the next dominant DM/#6/Heir to Vieira. With that as a backdrop, there have been some mouth-watering rumours circling around us circling both Moisés Caicedo and Declan Rice. We’re gonna need a bigger boat and all that. Sadly, it seems that Brighton’s form not to mention its recent transfer business may have shut the door on Caicedo bolstering our ranks.

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Trossard & White tell Caicedo what to expect…

     As Arsenal attempt to convince Brighton to sell Caicdeo, they enlisted a flock of Seagulls (okay, two), and the conversation went something like this.

     Leandro Trossard, sat in front of his locker after Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round loss to Man City, picked up his phone. “47 notifications? What’s that about?” the Belgian wondered aloud.
     “Mate, there’s all this talk of us signing Caicedo! What rock have you been under?” Ben White sat down to strip off his boots, socks, and shin guards. “It’s all anyone’s talking about. What d’you reckon?”
     “Ben, he’d be aces! I know Thomas escaped with just the rib injury, and I feel bad for Albert. He did his best, yes? But he’s not up for it just yet. It’s a big jump from the Jupiler Pro League—that’s the Belgian first division—anyway, it’s a big jump to the Prem. I struggled when I came over from Genk, and—”
“Mate, that’s perfect! Do you have Moises’ number? Ring him up straight away! He’s got to be feeling some doubts about this move, what with the numbers they’re tossin’ back and forth. I know full well that Brighton can drive a hard bargain. I know the pressure it can create. Can you reach him?”
     Trossard scrolled through his contacts until he found Caicedo. He texted, “Hey, Moises. Leandro here. Got a minute?”
     He and White waited anxious minutes. Would the Ecuadorian reply? The ticking of the clock on the wall seemed only to slow the passage of time. They each glanced up at it; in that moment, it seemed that the second hand froze before clicking ahead.
     “He’s answered!” Trossard exclaimed.
     White could scarcely contain himself. “What’s he said? C’mon!”
     “He says, ‘give me a minute.'”
     The two players, reunited only recently waited for anxious moments. Finally, after an agonisingly long delay, Trossard’s phone chimed.
     White couldn’t restrain himself. “MOISES!!! MATE! You have GOT to get over here! I’m telling you, I—”
     Trossard intervened. “Moises, I hate to rain on Ben’s parade, but you have got to get over here. I’ve not had a manager with Mikel’s vision. It’s…it’s really something. It’s on another level.”
     “Tross, I’m working on it. De Zerbi’s gone and frozen me out, just as he did to you. I don’t know what to do. They’re playing hardball.”
     White leaned in. “Mate, listen.”
     “You know what Brighton wanted for me?”
     There was a pause as Caicedo considered.
     “I’ll save you the expense. They wanted £50m. They insisted I wasn’t for sale. Guess what?”
      “Mate, look at where I am. At the Arsenal. Signing of the season, they’re sayin’. £50m.”
     There was a pause as Caicedo pondered this.
     “What do you think it’ll take for me to make this move? I don’t know if I can deal with four more months of all of this talk. It’s too much!” Caicedo’s anguish was real. 
     It was at this point that Trossard leaned in. “Mate, I was there. De Zerbi froze me out. You saw his words the other day? He’s ready to ‘move on’ without you. I’m starting to feel like you’re following in my footsteps.”
     “What’s he like? I see him on the sideline, jumping around and leaving the technical area. Does he—does he know what he’s doing?”
     White couldn’t resist. “Moises, listen to me. I’ve never had a manager like him. He…he sees the game in a way that I’ve not seen from another manager. Look: I’ve gone from one of the most over-priced transfers to one of the best transfers around. You know why? It’s down to him. He…he knows us. He knows the game. You come here, and you’ll be the next Kanté. Hell, you could displace Partey if he’s not careful. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Look at where we are, mate. We’re top of the league! We went into the Etihad with a rotated squad and could have won!”
     “Ben, hold off a sec,” Trossard interrupted. “Look, I know it’s no fun to be in De Zerbi’s doghouse. If you can make it over here—”
     Caicedo’s voice was rife with anguish. “I…I…look, I have family back home. I’m on £25k a week, and I know I should be happy about that, but there’s so much more I could do for my mum. I…”
     “Look, Moises. No one criticises you for your ambitions. Look at it from Brighton’s point of view, though. They’ve nabbed Ben here. They lost Graham. They lost yours truly. It’s gotta be tough to—”
     “I know. I know. I don’t—I don’t know…”
     White grabbed the phone from Trossard. “Moises, listen to me. This is the game they play. Clubs call for loyalty, but they’ll cast you off in a heartbeat. Arsenal aren’t just any club snatching up players left and right. They have a vision. I’m telling you. I’m miles ahead of where I was, miles ahead of where I thought I’d be!”
     It was Trossard’s turn to chime in. “Arteta’s the real deal. He has a vision of how to play. I’ve only been here a week or so, and I already feel something like what Ben’s saying. There’s something special going on here. It’s…what is the word? It’s…ineffable? It’s…for as good as they—for as good as we’ve been, I’m feeling like we’re only just starting to scratch the surface.”
     The line was silent. White and Trossard exchanged anxious glances. The clock ticked…and ticked…and ticked.
     “I’ll make it happen.”
     With that, the call ended.

De Zerbi's thrown in the towel on Caicedo.

Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi is starting to sound a bit like a manager who’s seen the last of his player. With Caicedo frozen out of the squad, similar to how ex-teaammate Leandro Trossard was frozne out, De Zerbi has spoken about how it’s time to “go forward without him”. It was just a few days ago that De Zerbi said that Caicedo is “only focused on Brighton. I hope he can stay with us until the end of the season”. Happier times on the southern shore. Those were the days. De Zerbi’s more-recent words seem to insinuate that a parting of ways is inevitable, and the only question is whether happens in the next few days or in the summer.

Let me admit that I have mixed feelings here. I like Brighton. I want them to do well. I’m disappointed that Potter was lured away. We did good business for Ben White. I’m fine with having taken Trossard off their hands because De Zerbi had essentially cut him loose. With Caicedo, though, it feels different. Caicedo has acted a bit mercenary (more on that in a minute), and we’ve been the bullies here. Brighton currently come off as David fending off not just one but two Goliaths, with Chelsea (but of course) sniffing around. For as irritating as it was over the years having to put with Barcelona treating us as a feeder club, it does start to feel like the shoe’s on the other foot here. 

First, though, back to De Zerbi throwing in that towel. Here are his most-recent comments on the situation:

I would like him to finish the season with us but we are ready to go forward without him. When you are 21 and you receive the request of a big team that is playing in European competition, I can understand.

Those are hardly the words of a manager confident of keeping the lad in the club. I suggested earlier that Caicedo was being a bit mercenary. It’s worth considering his situation, not as a justification of our pursuit of him but as a understanding of his concerns. He’s the youngest of ten children from an impoverished family in Ecuador. While his weekly salary of £25k or so is probably more than most families see in a year, he has to be seeing just how much more he can do for his family on a larger weekly wage. Again, I’m not suggesting that we’re acting as some kind of noble benefactor interested only in the wellbeing of the Caicedo clan; I’m only suggesting that those who might criticise the lad should keep in mind what’s on his.

Back to Brighton’s state of affairs, De Zerbi added a few nuggets that offer us more reasons to hope:

I think we need some players in some positions. I have spoken a lot with [chairman] Tony Bloom and he knows my position. We have a good team but we can improve from the transfer window. We lost Leandro Trossard, and if we lose also Caicedo it can be a problem for us if we want to fight for a European league or the maximum position on the table. If you want to stay like this, we can stay but I don’t like that [approach].

This again sounds like a man who sees the writing on the wall regarding Caicedo’s future, and it gives some substance to Caicedo’s admittedly tone-deaf declaration that he’d be “proud to be able to bring in a record transfer fee for Brighton”. There’s a bit of hubris there, but there’s also some practicality as well. If De Zerbi wants new players, a £75 fee (plus add-ons) would go an awful long way—but time is running short. 

The question then becomes, who will blink first?