Everton teach us a lesson
The 2020/21 football season is going to be a weird one with so much football being packed in. As this weekend’s results resoundingly proved.
And just when it looks like most teams could do with a break, we get a round of international games with three games packed in, then we are back for more of this madness in two weeks’ time!
On top of that, it was always going to be a tough start to the season for Brighton given their opening fixtures, especially considering the amount of player turnover there has been in a very shortened summer break
Whilst Albion played well at times, scoring twice and putting Everton under some serious pressure, there were parts of the performance against Everton that weren’t great.
In particular the now worrying habit of conceding goals from set pieces and giving the ball away in our own half, but we still have plenty of positives to take away from the first 4 games and into the remaining 34 games.
Ten goals conceded from four games is a fairly poor return, but take account of the opposition and it’s not that unreasonable. Albion conceded 7 in the same fixtures last season whilst season scoring just three compared to this season’s eight goals scored. And accumulated just one point compared to the three so far this season. Clear signs of improvement.
But let’s not pretend there aren’t issues. Albion’s main fallibilities of defending set pieces and at times overplaying in defensive areas were costly for all four goals conceded and were exposed by an in form & high quality Everton team.
This Albion team is young, relatively inexperienced and many haven’t played together long. So some of the mistakes in those first four games were predictable but they can’t keep persisting if Albion really want to improve on last season’s 15th place finish.
The defeat will have been a reality check for some Albion fans as the team were well beaten by a very good side who took apart our every weakness. That’s 7 wins from 7 this season for Everton. Whilst for Albion that win over Newcastle is looking very important.
Easier games are to come, once we get to the second international break we‘ll have a better idea of how far this team has come, it’s very early to make any judgements just yet.
Powell’s team offers promise but are also taught a lesson.
There’s been lots of promise from Hope Powell’s team so far this season despite last week’s FA Cup exit. Something particularly shown by the four point picked up from their first two fixtures. But their third league game of the season against United was a big test of those signs of improvements and an equally stark reality check for Albion’s other senior side.
And unfortunately despite Kaagman, Green, Connolly and Walsh all returning to the starting line-up, Man United dominated and eased to a 3-0 victory in Sunday’s WSL match between the sides.
Like against Man City, Brighton again defended well for long periods. But you can’t expect to concede as much possession and territory every week and keep coming away with a clean sheet.
The highlight was a brilliant solo goal from the ex-Albion player and England international Alessia Russo to make it 2-0. A goal that highlighted how Man United were simply a cut above their guests, putting Albion under constant pressure who found it tough to get out their own half for long periods. With the eventual 3-0 scoreline a fair reflection of the home sides dominance.
A league cup tie against West Ham follows for Albion this week before another tough WSL game at home to Arsenal.
Deadline Day Panic
A lot of the transfer window discourse from Albion fans this time around has been very negative, a further example of the club’s disproportionately ever-growing expectations.
I personally think we’ve had a good window and would prefer no business today. Panicked deadline day deals are risky.
The club has a good first team squad and with Graham Potter in charge it looks more than enough is in place for the team to have a good season.
Yes, the club’s spent limited funds this summer, but offers for the likes of Brewster & Watkins were always likely to fall short if club’s with less frugal ownerships got involved as happened.
We must remind ourselves that the club has a relatively small budget for the Premier League and being here is success in itself.
The noticeably more frequent investment in u23 players and it’s academy is its way of the club trying to gain an advantage over the likes of Villa and others, something we have a proven success of doing in recent years.
Yes, we’ve spent big in prior years, but many of those players are still on our books. Some now filling the bench, filling the treatment table or out on loan, but all on financially limiting long term big money contracts. Can we afford to add yet another big money player to the wage book who could just as likely flop as much as he could be the “silver bullet” people have argued for? Especially amongst the current global economic turmoil and that has been caused by COVID.
It’s also a sign of the clubs plan to become financially self-sufficient whilst remaining competitive and working towards its long term goal of established top-half topflight status.
This is a more realistic long term strategy than splashing inordinate amounts of money on one player in search for short term success, Tony Bloom can’t keep bankrolling the club’s losses forever.
Disproportionately growing expectations are something I’ve written about before and that have been a problem for the club for a while, in part it’s a symptom of Albion’s success.
But I can’t help but feel they have created a rod for their own back by not managing things better.