Bong: Everyone is giving everything to reach the Premier League
Gaetan Bong believes the extra strength in depth in Albion's squad this season is behind their success so far.
The Seagulls are top of the Championship, ten points clear of third-placed Reading with six matches to go. Brighton missed out on promotion last season when they drew the final game of the season at Middlesbrough – when a win would have taken them up – and then lost in the play-off semi-finals to Sheffield Wednesday.
Left-back Bong, who made his first appearance since early January, in last night’s 3-1 victory against Birmingham feels the experience of last year has also helped the squad.
He said: “We’ve got more experience this year and the Championship is a tough league. Every few days, you need to go again and keep fighting.
“It’s very tough but this year we have more experience and the young boys have got more experience and more confidence.
“We’ve got good players but you can see a big difference from last season and the season before to this season. Sometimes we don’t take a risk and sometimes we know we can play football. Maybe sometimes the fans expect more, better football, but with more experience you realise you can’t always play football.
“Sometimes it was hard tonight but in the end we got the three points and this is the difference from last season.
“Last season, we sometimes played so well but we drew or lost the game. This year, sometimes we keep the ball, everyone defends and we get the three points. That’s the most important thing.”
This is Bong’s second season with Albion, after joining when Brighton had finished 20th in the Championship prior to his arrivial.
He said: “When I came here, I’d spent three months at Wigan but I just went there for the end of the season.
“I spoke with Chris (Hughton) and with people in the club and I said this league is tough but you can see the difference between three years ago and last season to now, you just bring three or four players in and everything changes.
“We were there fighting hard last year, but what didn’t help us was that we had a few injuries towards the end of the season.
“This year we have brought in some more players just in case we have injuries. Poco (Sebastien Pocognoli) came in and he played well while I was out.
“This is football and this is our strength. We have a good team, everyone is giving everything and we just want to get into the Premier League and are doing everything to get there.”
On reaching the Premier League, Bong said: “For me, it’s the best league in the world. I’ve played in different countries, in the Champions League and the World Cup but I’ve always wanted to play in the Premier League.
“This was the main ambition when I arrived here. We have the stadium and training ground to compete there, but we need to get there with our results on the pitch. We are doing it at the moment.
“We are really focused about games. Tonight we were happy to take the three points.
“Because we are professional, we weren’t happy with some things. When you are professional, you cannot be happy just because you take the three points. You still need to say ‘okay, this wasn’t good’ and try to fix it for the next game.
“It’s the best way to get to the Premier League and it’s the way we need to be.”
Bong was also delighted to be back in action and said: “I am very happy to be back with the guys. It’s been a long time, but I’m happy to be here.
“It’s always hard to see the guys playing without you and everyone knows I want to be involved. But I was there inside the dressing room speaking with the boys just trying to bring something else.
“Now I am just happy to be back, able to fight with everyone and finish this road to promotion.”
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