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For a taster of what's instore, check out Graham Potter's programme notes below as he reflects on the past few weeks.
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Graham Potter's programme notes
Tonight we welcome Aston Villa and Dean Smith to the Amex as we look to continue an excellent run of results in 2021.
We know from our game at Villa Park earlier this season, just how good a side they are and how tough an opponent they will be tonight. Anyone who's watched them play regularly in the Premier League this season knows they've been a top side; one who attack well, but also have the ability to keep clean sheets. They have quality in every area of the pitch and they recruited really well over the summer. So we will be in for yet another tough game tonight.
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When we reflect on our recent run of Premier League games - and I'm writing these notes ahead of our FA Cup tie at Leicester City - it's been a really tough set of fixtures since the turn of the year, but to lose just once, away at Manchester City, and take 11 points from our last five league games we can be pleased with the progress we've made in 2021. I always felt confident the results would come, given the performance levels have been consistently high, but there’s never a guarantee; so it's a nice feeling when they do come along, especially when they are against some of the more established teams in the Premier League.
I'm delighted for everyone connected to the club, from the chairman down and all the fans. While it's been a period for the fans to savour, we cannot dwell too long and we still have plenty of work to do, and we want to maintain that momentum.
It's easy to forget we have such a young group of players, but they're a pleasure to work with and are keen to learn and improve all the time. They're progressing every day, and it's such a positive for the club, when you look at the age of the squad, the quality within and to the future. For me as head coach it's exciting to be working with this group of players. Yes, there may be bumps in the road, matches lost, and frustrating times, but I hope we've shown again what it is we are about and what we are trying to achieve.
We have a number of new arrivals who came in during the window: Jakub, Michal, Percy and Moises, and I understand the desire from the fans to see each of them play in a Brighton shirt; they are equally keen to play. However it's important we remember that they are young men, moving to not only a new club but also a new country, playing in the toughest league in the world and in these most testing of times.
It's important we don’t expect too much, too soon, put too much pressure on young shoulders and give them time to adapt and acclimatise. I heard Sean Dyche talking about Dale Stephens needing six months to settle at Burnley; an experienced player moving in a country he has played all his career. I also remember saying similar words when Alexis Mac Allister arrived from Argentina last January, long before the impact of Covid-19 even became clear. Now, given time to settle he's consistently shown his quality ever since the start of project restart and he has got better through that period.
We often talk of the focus is on the next game, and that's true, but we are also building for the future; and it's important we do that as well. All four players will benefit from being given time to adapt and being gradually introduced into the team.
During the window we saw two players make permanent moves away from the club. Max Sanders heading to Lincoln City and Glenn Murray to Nottingham Forest. Max could've stuck around, in a comfortable environment as part of the squad in the Premier League, but he wanted to play, and took the opportunity of regular senior football with Lincoln, which we couldn't guarantee him here. I applaud his desire and we all wish Max well; I've no doubt he'll prove a great acquisition for Lincoln.
Glenn shared that same desire of regular first-team football, which is why he left for Watford in the summer, and while it had been a frustrating time there, I was delighted to see him off the mark on his debut last weekend. To score more than 100 goals for one club is exceptional and rightly puts Glenn in the legend bracket here at the Albion. He'll be back to say a proper farewell and that will also allow the fans to show their gratitude to him. We've rightly paid tribute to him in this issue, but for now I wish him well at Forest, and suspect there’ll be a few more goals from him to come.
Finally, a word on Solly March, who suffered a bad injury at Liverpool, the only downside of an otherwise memorable night. Solly has now had successful surgery on the knee injury, but he faces a recovery period of at least 12 weeks before he'll be back. It's such a blow for a player who has been so consistent for us and arguably in the best form of his career. We all wish him well in his rehab and look forward to welcoming him back, as soon as he is ready.