Former Albion defender Gary O’Reilly feels the club has moved to the “next level” under Graham Potter’s tutelage.
The Seagulls currently sit ninth in the Premier League table, having picked up seven points from their last three games, and therefore head into the derby fixture against Crystal Palace in a buoyant frame of mind.
O’Reilly was also a former teammate of ex-Albion boss Chris Hughton at Tottenham Hotspur but feels the club has kicked on since Potter walked through the door in May 2019.
“Chris did an unbelievable job to get Brighton promoted and then to consolidate their position in the Premier League, but credit to Graham Potter, he’s taken it on to the next level,” he said. “For them to be sat so high in the table, and for them to go to Goodison Park in their last league game and score three goals, is a superb indicator of the way things are moving.
“The players understand Graham’s vision by the looks of it and he’s made them a very pleasing side to watch. It’s a confident group and along with the attacking intent shown, they are also very difficult to break down. A number of their performances have been really quite stellar.
“Some of the player acquisition is highly commendable too – players who would have been unknown to many have been brought in and given a chance to shine. There’s also real character in the team, which was seen at Everton and, of course, at Chelsea, which is another component you look for in players when you’re recruiting.”
Aside from his three-year spell with the Seagulls in the 1980s, O’Reilly also served Crystal Palace with distinction and feels there’s also a sea change happening at Selhurst Park, with Patrick Vieira having replaced Roy Hodgson as manager last summer.
“Under Patrick, Palace are playing a more expansive style of football than they did under Roy, who was more pragmatic, yet effective,” Gary added. “Patrick has had to deal with a number of injuries and absentees to this point but when he gets everyone back fit and firing, then the project will be very interesting to watch, to see how they all gel.
“They have some excellent individual players, Conor Gallagher for instance, who has not only sustained the performances he was putting in at West Brom on loan last season, but has taken them up a notch.
“It should, therefore, be a fascinating encounter at the Amex on Friday night and one I’m looking forward to immensely.”
But where will Gary’s allegiances lie on the night and who will come out on top? If you’re looking for a prediction, you’d better look elsewhere.
“Not a chance!” is the response when pushed for the scoreline. “When I’m asked who I support, the answer is always the same: Tottenham! I know it’s a total cop out, but I had the privilege to play for Palace and Brighton and have an affinity with both clubs and both sets of fans. I’m just hoping it’s a good game and there’s every reason to believe it will be.”
- There will be more from Gary in Friday night’s matchday programme. He also co-hosts and produces a sports podcast, StarTalk Sports Edition. Visit www.startalkradio.net/category/startalk-sports-edition/