Gus Poyet

Brighton's new stadium, Falmer, East Sussex.

Brighton & Hove Albion will be the highest ranked side in the competition when the FA Cup first round draw takes place tomorrow afternoon. Topping a tight League One table by three points, things are looking good for the Seagulls right now.

Although the club is yet to grace the Premier League (they last appeared in the top flight 27 years ago), a more hankered after milestone occurs next July when the 22,500 all-seater site at Falmer opens.

On the pitch, Albion have lost just 14 of the 49 games played under Gus Poyet – no mean feat considering the former Chelsea midfielder has changed the club’s footballing philosophy in the process.

I met with the South American on a nippy morning earlier this week. Well, I thought it was nippy anyway… Poyet was in his shorts. “My mind is always on the football,” he says.

Poyet is one of just two managers from the Americas currently working in the Football League* (Try and guess the other before you finish reading. I’ve put the other manager’s name at the bottom). Continue reading

Late August looks at Bundesliga and Serie A

Kaiserslautern 2-0 Bayern Munich, 27/08/2010

As per usual action in Germany’s top-flight commenced on the Friday, and for the second week in succession Bayern Munich got things under way. Unfortunately for Louis van Gaal, they didn’t quite gets things all their own way.

Much to the delight of a rapturous home-crowd in Kaiserslautern, the 2009/10 2. Bundesliga champions defeated the illustrious treble-winners by a comfortable two-goal margin.

There was nothing particularly brilliant or revolutionary about how Marco Kurz and his team achieved the feat – the three points were a testimony to hard-work and lethargic Bavarian visitors.

Bayern dominated possession, but met a side willing to sit back and press with gusto in their own-half. Therefore, Kaiserslautern old-boy Miroslav Klose & co. found openings difficult to come by.

Adam Nemec was cleverly stationed in Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shadow, stifling the quarterback’s space. Mark van Bommel sought territory further upfield, though this rendered Bayern susceptible to the counter-attack. Continue reading

Introduction of Cavani a tactical masterstroke

Edinson Cavani

Diego Forlán is the poster boy for Uruguay’s successful campaign in the World Cup, and perhaps justifiably so. On the march to the second round, the former Manchester United striker has steered La Celeste to seven points, four goals, and none conceded.

Yet had coach Óscar Tabárez not implemented adjustments in the wake of that 0-0 with France, Uruguay would likely be on the plane home.

In that game, Uruguay looked empty down the right, and Patrice Evra attacked at will. With Ignacio González as trequartista, and Forlán and Luis Suárez high and horizontal, the South Americans floundered.

Realising his tactics were wrong (but saved from defeat by French incompetence), the former Milan manager identified and addressed the issue.

For the encounter with hosts South Africa, Tabárez included Edinson Cavani, the Palermo marksman, part of a partnership with Fabrizio Miccoli at club level, put out on the right of midfield. Continue reading