Poyet enjoys the high life but tells Brighton to keep feet on ground
Thursday 25 August 2011
Brighton manager Gus Poyet admits he must curb the growing expectation surrounding his team after an exciting start to the season was further enhanced by their Carling Cup defeat of Sunderland on Tuesday.
Excited fans are already suggesting that Albion, League One winners last season and still unbeaten in the Championship, can emulate Norwich and gain two successive promotions to bring top-flight football to their new £93m Amex Stadium next year.
But former Uruguay international Poyet, after his side's second-round win at home to Steve Bruce's side, insisted: "You are going too quick, talking about going up again.
"What makes me feel good is that we are a proper team playing football. Doing that you can win or you can lose but the most important thing for me is seeing my team play the proper way.
"If you are winning then that's even better – especially against a big team and the performance and the result against Sunderland was very special.
"But it's for me now, that's my job, to keep us grounded. I'm talking to everyone every day, every second, not only the players and the club but the city as well, because although we are all happy it doesn't mean that just because we've beaten Sunderland everything is OK.
"In fact it is going to be more difficult because what will happen now is that everyone else wants to be the first team to win at the Amex.
"If I was still a player myself I would love that situation – coming here and trying to show you are the best."
Circumstances would suggest that the former Chelsea and Tottenham player, still finding his way as a manager, will have a tough task containing the burgeoning expectation on the south coast.
After their cup success he is trying to refocus everybody on Saturday's home game against Peterborough, from where he bought the midweek match-winner Craig Mackail-Smith for a club record £2.5m plus add-ons.
The 1,200 Sunderland fans who travelled to Sussex for the tie can confirm that their new-look side played reasonably well after last Saturday's demoralising defeat by Newcastle – but wasteful finishing was again their undoing.
Bruce said: "We created enough chances to have won the game but in 120 minutes we didn't take even one of them and we were punished for it. The spirit is good enough. The players went out there after a derby defeat and showed the right attitude. I can't complain at our general play but what usually sorts out a Premier League team from the rest is the ability to finish chances and we didn't do that."
Bruce appears to have tightened his defence with new signings but still lacks a cutting edge – especially with Asamoah Gyan restricted to the bench for 107 minutes with the after-effects of a virus.
Bruce said: "The finishing is a big concern at the moment and we face another huge game at Swansea on Saturday. We know what to expect and we'd better be ready for it, ready to ride out the storm and get a result."
Another proponent of an upset on Tuesday was the Shrewsbury midfielder Sean McAllister, who is crossing his fingers for a Carling Cup glamour tie after their 3-1 humbling of Swansea.
The League Two side have now accounted for two reasonably well-known opponents after the Premier League's first Welsh team joined Derby on the scrapheap as Shrewsbury reached round three for the first time in 18 years.
However, with England's European representatives making their appearance in Saturday's last-32 draw, McAllister is hoping for a game to savour.
"I would love a big team," he said. "All players want to test themselves against the best in the world. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal. They are exactly that. Any player wants to be where they are. Financially it would be good as well, so a nice away tie against one of those big clubs is what most lads would die for."
In lambasting the shoddy efforts of his own side at Greenhous Meadow, Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers claimed a number of the Shrewsbury line-up should be operating at a higher level.
McAllister is one of those who has, making 68 league appearances in four seasons at Sheffield Wednesday before his release in 2010. Shrewsbury manager Graham Turner rescued him with a two-year contract that expires at the end of this season, and the Bolton-born midfielder accepts it is time for him and a number of his team-mates to fulfil their potential.
"What Brendan Rodgers has said is fair comment," said McAllister. "A lot of our lads have played at a higher level than League Two and we want to be there again. It is partly out of selfishness and also a team thing.
"You have to want to do it for yourself, but you can't do it by yourself. You need the whole team behind you. The club is working towards gaining promotion. We were unlucky not to get it last year and don't want to miss out this time around."
Defeat in the play-offs hurt Shrewsbury badly. However, judging by Tuesday night's performance, it has not dented confidence too much as the hosts were even able to respond after Swansea benefited from a fortuitous early own-goal.
"People might have thought that first goal would make us stop playing," said McAllister. "But we reacted well. To come back from 1-0 down is testament to the character we have here."
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