As this is my first home game as Brighton head coach, I would like to express to you all just how happy I am to begin this association with a club that shares the same ambitions as I do.
I think we are a really good fit, in terms of what I can bring to the club, and what the club was looking for in terms of its playing style, so I hope we can grow together. That is the target and it’s one that I’m confident of fulfilling, alongside my coaching team.
For any coach in the Premier League – the most important league in the world – it is a big challenge to succeed here. There are many teams that excel, many players who shine, but that challenge is one that I am looking forward to immensely. I want to bring my personality, my experience, and build on the excellent work put in place here by my predecessor, Graham Potter.
I would like to place on record my thanks to Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and David Weir for their warm welcome and, of course, for putting their trust in me. I would also like to thank the players for their positivity on the training pitch, the staff at the club for all their help, and to the supporters for the many positive messages. It is really appreciated.
With the postponements and the international break, it gave me and my staff a chance to settle into our new environment and to get an understanding and a feel for the club. It also gave us a chance to start the process of building up our relationships with the players. I already knew that we had a lot of talented players and now, having spent some time with them on the training ground, I am excited and enthused to work with them all.
As we all know, there was already a very defined style of play here under Graham Potter. I have the same ethos on the game, but it won’t be a case of standing still or finding contentment in what’s been achieved so far. I have already told the players that perfection doesn’t exist; there is always something to improve on, so it is my desire, and also my duty, to help us make that next step. The players here share my ideas on how the game should be played, they also have the right mental attitude to play the brave football that I like to see, so we go on this journey together.
MA+ members & STH only - Log-in required
That journey began last Saturday at Liverpool and despite only having a couple of training sessions with some of the players, I was very proud of the performance. I wanted the team to play with passion, with intensity, to play on the front foot, and we transmitted what we had worked on in training to the game itself. A point was the least we deserved, against a great team, and while there are things we can still improve on, it has given us a great foundation.
Today is another tough challenge and I welcome Antonio Conte and his staff to the Amex Stadium. Antonio is a man, a former player and a coach who I have the utmost respect for, given everything he has achieved in the game. As a fellow Italian, it will be a proud moment to shake his hand before the kick-off, but that’s where the cordiality has to end. For 90 minutes we have to give everything against one of the best teams in the Premier League. Like Antonio, I will be demanding nothing less.
Finally, a message to you, the fans. I could sense the passion you have for your team at Liverpool last Saturday and I am told that our support away from home is that loud and that inspiring every time. I am also told that there is a real passion for the team here at the Amex too – and I thank you in advance for that. I know you are doing all you can to help the team, and like you, I want us to be successful.
I also want us to play the kind of football which will give you plenty of delight, plenty to cheer about, and always wanting to come back for more. With the passion of our fans, the desire of the players, the support of the coaches and everyone at the club, we can do this together!
Finally, I would like to add my voice to the message that there is No Room for Racism in football or anywhere in society. We are fortunate that we have a voice to relay this message, as individuals, as a club, and as a sport, and it’s important that we continue to do so at every opportunity.
Enjoy the game.