Harty on Poyet, Palace and the Albion

SO, was it all a question of timing with Gus Poyet?

I’ve never been one for footballing conspiracy theories but, almost six months on, I still have nagging doubts in my head over an Albion-related issue.

Brighton beat, nay humbled, Crystal Palace on Sunday, March 17, 3-0 at the Amex. Less than two months later, Poyet found himself effectively at ‘half-time’ in a play-off semi-final with 90 minutes to come against the same opposition, with the same 11 fit players from St Patrick’s Day at his disposal. Yet, he chose to go a different way and, as they say, the rest is history.

Regardless of their on-going fight with relegation, Palace find themselves in the top flight and with all the money that brings.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, prior to the second leg at the Amex back in May, Poyet knew he was leaving.

Fall-outs with Tony Bloom and Paul Barber clearly were a factor but was it more to do with the fact that Poyet had seen the iceberg with the Albion?

The Amex honeymoon period is well and truly over at the Albion. In my opinion, the club had the chance to make the Premier League dream a reality, but fell away at the optimum moment.

Now, regardless of how much potential new boss Oscar Garcia has, how much will a season of mid-table stability affect the Albion in the long-term?

From being the hottest ticket in town less than two years ago, several thousand empty seats, week-in, week-out, tell a story.

And, with indifferent form on the pitch, you could question how long before 25,000 becomes 20,000 and then becomes 18,000?

Have the massed ranks of the ‘Johnny Come Latelys’ started falling out of love with the Albion already?

As a club, it’s widely known that there is a hardcore, win or lose, rain or shine, of around 8,000-12,000, anything more is dependent on ‘fashion’ and results.

It’s not rocket science, and Tony Bloom with a long-standing history going back generations with the club knows it only too well.

Clearly, Poyet knew it as well, I just hope, with things potentially on the wane, up against the events of the last few seasons, that fans don’t take it out on Oscar Garcia – a man who is clearly working with a number of limitations thrust upon him.

Congratulations to local footballer Charlie Wakefield, 15, son of the legendary non-league defender Mark, who is in the England under-16 squad this weekend for their Victory Shield clash against Wales at Kidderminster.

Charlie started his career at Fishersgate Flyers before joining the Albion at under-ten level. After two years, he was scouted by Premier League giants Chelsea and is currently an under-16 scholar with the Stamford Bridge club.

And, finally, if you can get along to Woodside Road on Monday, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Arguably two of the best under-18’s sides in the county, Worthing and Burgess Hill, battle it out in the second qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup, with a 7.45pm kick off.