Gus may be gone, but won't be forgotten

Monday 24th June 2013 9:40

Gus Poyet: Given the boot

Gus Poyet: Given the boot

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Brighton FanZoner Brett Mendoza pays tribute to Gus Poyet after the Seagulls boss was acrimoniously told of his sacking on live TV on Sunday.

So last night the news we've been waiting weeks for finally happened.

Sadly, Gus Poyet was relieved of his duties as manager of Brighton & Hove Albion.

At the time the news broke, I was sat in my local pub partaking in a few light ales, so missed out on the comical aftermath live on BBC television - Gus claiming that he first heard of his departure because the MOTD producer handed him a print out of the official club statement. The extent of that truth could be questionable, it could be a game Gus is playing quite well. Who knows?

After what had been in theory, the most successful season in my Brighton watching life time (26 seasons), came a farcical few weeks that even the script writers of Dream Team would struggle to better with Harchester United.

At the end of the day, whatever happens with the club and Gus, Poyet has been the best manager I have seen at the club. He transformed the club from top to bottom, from League One fodder to a club knocking on the Premier League door.

For a man that had never managed a football club before, he didn't half do bad. He leaves us after 194 games in charge. That included 86 wins, 59 draws and 49 defeats. 282 goals scored, 204 conceded, 281 points accumulated, a League One title, a few FA Cup scalps and our highest placed finish in decades, fourth in the Championship.

As I said, he has been the best in my lifetime. Things ended sourly and comically, but I will never forget what he has done for the club. Even though it was not every fans' cup of tea, I loved the tippy-tappy, patient style of football that he introduced - "our identity".

My favourite Poyet quote came after winning the League One title at Walsall: "I always say, with football we don't realise how happy you can make people.

"They forget about everything, they forget about their own problems, about family problems, financial problems, health problems."

He was right, football is a release for many, including myself, from normal life. For years, watching Brighton was more of a social thing for me, we would turn up to watch, usually dross and then go to the pub and have a good old moan.

After Gus' arrival, we actually turned quite good, the football was attractive and we were relatively successful. He brought in players of a class way above what I have become accustomed to at our club, from Lee Hendrie to Vicente, Wayne Bridge, Tomasz Kuszczak and a host of amigos from Spain.

He wasn't perfect, he brought in some dud players, usually strikers, but he redeemed himself with Leonardo Ulloa. Sometimes his tactics were questionable, but when the team were on song, we were a joy to watch. So good it attracted record crowds, an average over 26,000, including the first ever 30,000 plus gate in decades.

Obviously he was very outspoken on a number of things, and ultimately that lead to the end of his first managerial job which started on 10 November 2009, making him the eighth longest serving manager in the country.

I still can't get my head around Brighton not being a small club knocking around the bottom two divisions of the footballing hierarchy, but it is reality, largely down to Poyet. The Premier League now isn't just a far flung pipedream, it is a distinct possibility.

Nothing is ever simple in the life of a Brighton fan. Poyet wasn't sacked for poor performance on the pitch, in fact he was excelling. The official line is that there were numerous breaches of contract in his tenure, with a 500-page document backing up claims made by the club.

So suspended by the club, an internal investigation took place and 38 days later a great tenure ended in acrimony, controversy and live in the BBC studios where Gus was a pundit on his native Uruguay vs Tahiti. A sad state of affairs, which along with "Poogate," for all the wrong reasons, made us national news. Obviously blame is to lie on both sides of the story. Now the story has moved on to how Gus was sacked, not the reasons to why he was sacked as per the investigations.

The players return to pre-season training today without a manager, so the farce continues a little longer. Will it be costly? Who knows, but it is far from ideal. Whatever happens, hopefully the fans still sick with us, I believe we will still go places, even if the upcoming season is a step back from last.

I think it is obvious Poyet leaving is best for everyone as too many bridges were burned, but the way the whole thing has been handled, I can only describe as a shambles and embarrassing to our club. On a personal level, I met Gus a few times and he was always charming and happy to chat. He even told me he reads the drivel I write on here.

The sorry saga seems set to continue as he appeals the decision; but we also have a new managerial appointment, new signings and a pre-season tour of Spain to look forward to all before the new campaign kicks off against Newport County.

Maybe one for Twitter to continue, but I will end with my #FavouriteGusPoyetMoment.

Poyet standing on the Madeira Drive balcony with a microphone and thousands of fans below, before bursting out with a chorus of "we're ******* brilliant."

And for Gus, all I can say is "Gracias!"

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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