Great Gus has Seagulls soaring

Tuesday 30th April 2013 10:43

Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez: Have helped Brighton into play-offs

Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez: Have helped Brighton into play-offs

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Brighton are three games from the Premier League after booking a place in the play-offs. FanZoner Brett Mendoza could not be more excited...

Well there it is. It is official, we have a ticket for the roller coaster ride that is the Championship play-offs. Very unlike Brighton we have done it with a game to spare. Normally we like to do things the hard way.

For me it is a monumental achievement. I have spent most of my life with Brighton plodding around Division Three and Four, so the prospect of seeing us play in the Premier League is just something I still struggle to get my head around.

Imagine Brighton playing with Martin Tyler proclaiming to the watching world that he is at The Amex "and it's live" or being dissected by the analytical wisdom of Gary Neville or having the obvious being pointed out by Alans Hansen and Shearer. I cannot wait!

Obviously it is all ifs and buts, but the reality is we are only a couple of wins from the Premier League. The Premier League is hyped up by many, mainly those caught up in the hyperbole of the Premier League as "the best league in the world!" For me it is not, but for Brighton to be playing there is just a mouth-watering prospect.

I still think the German and Spanish leagues are better than England. The Champions League is showing that this year. It is weird that things that have been done on the pitch in those countries for years is what Gus Poyet is trying to do at Brighton. But in England, Poyet is seen as a visionary. That is how far behind England are, and for me it shows on the world stage.

Germany and Spain seem to care more about the football fans too. Look at ticket prices which are very affordable, even to watch the top teams. My worry if we get to the Premier League is that I am going to be out priced out of watching us, but we will cross that bridge if it comes.

So what has been the difference between this year and last? We were in a similar position with 10 games to go last year, but the wheels fell of and we finished with a whimper. This year we got stronger at the right time. I think last year we were still a League One side punching above our weight with the momentum of winning the league.

This year Gus and his recruitment team have been brilliant. The signings that have come are better than I am used to seeing play for Brighton. Players from the Premier League, players from La Liga and players with international experience. In have come Tomasz Kuszczak, Wayne Bridge, Matthew Upson, Andrew Crofts, Dean Hammond, David Lopez, Andrea Orlandi and Leonardo Ulloa.

Wayne Bridge made it into the Championship Team Of The Year announced at the PFA Awards this weekend. I love how much he appears to care, despite being on loan. He has been damn good too! Upson has a knack of being in the right place at the right time and helped shore up the defence which has conceded the least goals in the league.

Where do I begin with 'Spanish Dave' and Orlandi? They are just class. Technically gifted and play with an understated flair. They have set up numerous goals and notched 15 goals in the league between them too.

Then we have the man from Argentina, the man we all adore. Leonardo is his name! Ulloa has been better than any fan could have expected. No one had heard of him, some questioned the £2million price tag, but since he arrived in January he has been having a goal party. I make it 10 goals in 17 games, that's some strike rate!

Despite a lot of love for the Spanish-speaking signings from lots of fans, my signing of the season has to be Kuszczak. He gives me confidence just watching from the stands, so the defence in front of him must be uplifted by his presence. Commanding in the box, ridiculously good shot stopper and fits into our play out from the back style of play.

I also like him because of his amusing, mad cap photos he posts on Twitter. He has earned us lots of points, kept 16 clean sheets and is the rock at the back of the meanest defence in the division! However I still for love nor money, cannot spell his name without having to Google it first!

It is looking like we are concourse for a semi-final date with rivals Crystal Palace in the play-offs. I don't know how the hell mine, or anyone's nerves from both sets of fans can cope with that? Whatever happens from here on in, if we go up or not, I think this season has already been highly successful.

By Brett Mendoza, FanZone's Brighton blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @BrettMendoza - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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