Pep Guardiola found a new streetwise Graham Potter and Brighton...and he couldn't take it

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Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 5:32 pm

Cast your mind back to deepest darkest January. Just before Brighton made the trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City, Pep Guardiola lauded Graham Potter as the best English manager in the Premier League.

A lot of Albion fans went giddy at the idea of one of the greatest bosses in the history of the game offering such high praise of our Graham.

Guardiola’s assessment was not the first time nice words had been spoken or written about Brighton in the first half of the 2020-21 season, but none of this made a jot of difference to a Premier League table which showed the Albion in a relegation battle having made their worst ever start to a top flight campaign.

There were no compliments this time from Pep Guardiola

Brighton being good to watch, people pointing to xG, even Guardiola lauding the manager were not going to keep the Seagulls in the top flight. Only much improved results would do that.

And in any case, it is easy to credit another club or manager when you are consistently taking points from them.

Of course Guardiola had nice words for Potter in January; his City side had scored nine unanswered goals past Brighton in two matches the previous season.

Prior to that, Guardiola had also overseen four league victories and one FA Cup semi final win over Chris Hughton since the Albion joined the elite in 2017. It is little wonder Pep loved little old Brighton as we were a guaranteed six points for his Citizens side.

Would Guardiola be quite so gushing in the unlikely event that Brighton ever managed to beat City? We got an unexpected answer to that question in spectacular style at the Amex on

Tuesday night when the Albion came back from 2-0 down to defeat the newly crowned Premier League title winners 3-2 in front of 7,900 raucous supporters.

At the full time whistle, Potter went to shake hands with the man he thought was his Spanish best friend. Guardiola was having none of it though and after spitting a few feathers, he scuttled off down the player’s tunnel with the rest of his coaching staff.

English champions City are, European champions they might be in two weeks time, but Guardiola will not be winning any sportsmanship titles if his show of pettiness at the Amex was anything to go by.

It was fantastic to see. Give me Guardiola storming off because he has lost to a streetwise Brighton performance over Guardiola saying he really likes Potter as a manager whilst City rack up another three points to their total.

City are not the only opponent to have discovered a new-found steel running through Brighton in the second half of the season. Two weeks before that January trip to the blue half of Manchester, the Albion had gone in 3-1 down at half time against Wolves.

A terrible opening 45 minutes of football came off the back of throwing away two points at West Ham, needing an 87th minute equaliser to rescue a draw from 10-man Sheffield United, failing to beat Fulham and losing 3-0 at Leicester with all the Foxes goals coming in the first half.

That run of performances had led many people to question Brighton’s mentality. The evidence in front of our eyes suggested that the Albion were a soft touch who were too easy to take points off. It is no wonder the rest of the Premier League liked us.

The second half of that Wolves game saw the Seagulls finally show some fight. Brighton had won two of 18 matches at that point in the season. Post-Wolves, their record reads seven victories in 19 and they have just equalled their best ever Premier League points tally of 41.

Who wants plaudits when you can have a win rate of one in every three matches and be on course for, points wise at least, your best season?

Guardiola can keep his praise of Brighton to himself in future. If the Albion maintain this fight in 2021-22, it will not just be the City manager who loses his hair after facing Brighton.

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