What a difference 90 minutes can make? I doubt I was the only Albion fan that raised an eyebrow when Chris Hughton made 11 changes to the starting line-up for the League Cup tie at Oxford on Tuesday night.
Clearly the competition, along with the FA Cup, has almost become ‘dumbed down’ in recent seasons, with league form taking precedent.
However, for all the Albion travelling support who made the trip to the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday is there an argument that it’s a tad disrespectful to them to expect them to travel to effectively watch a reserve team play? Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else I realise the Championship is the priority and with a huge game this Saturday at Newcastle a number of changes were always going to be on the cards, but a whole team is quite drastic.
Then again, the Albion ran out 4-2 winners and by the time you’re reading this we will know who awaits us in the third round. If it’s a plum home tie, I hope there’s some way that the Albion can reward the travelling support from Tuesday, be it with a couple of free drink vouchers – just something to recognise the away support.
Elsewhere, with the transfer window closing in a week’s time, speculation is mounting about the future of Albion midfielder Dale Stephens. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, players come, players go, its part and parcel of football, so if Burnley are prepared to pay a reported £4million for the player, the Albion would be stupid to turn it down. The timing is key, if he’s going to go, personally I’d rather he went before the weekend which gives Hughton valuable time to bring in new faces before the transfer window shuts.
Selling him at the 11th hour, while it still brings the cash in, is in some ways counter productive. The Albion have money but a short time frame gives the advantage to any potential selling club, I know the same could be said about Burnley and Stephens but ultimately, if he doesn’t want to play for the Albion it’s time to cash in and Hughton will have an obvious advantage in the transfer market with funds and time on his side.
With Brighton live on Sky against Newcastle this Saturday evening, many Albion fans found their proposed trip to the North East impossible due to incompatible train times. Unfortunately, domestic football sold its soul to TV a long time, it’s something we have to accept and take the money that’s forthcoming as a result.
On the flip side, it does give a leg up to our local non-league sides. Worthing have made a great start in the Ryman Premier and have another home fixture this Saturday with the visit of Grays Athletic, 3pm kick-off.
Albion season ticket holders can not only get into Woodside Road for £5 on production of their Amex ticket, but they can also stay after the game and watch the Newcastle versus Albion game on one of the six TV screens in the main bar.
Well from many thinking, including myself, that the Olympics was going to be an anti-climax with all the pre-games controversy, Team GB return a record medal haul, and put the nation at the forefront of world sport. Apparently Sir John Major needs to take some of the credit with the advent of the lottery and the funding it’s brought to a number of sports. It just goes to show the unpredictability of sport. No one was looking forward to the Games but it’s turned out to be one of the greatest Olympics ever.
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