Seagulls should go for play-offs

Friday 21st February 2014 14:02

Oscar Garcia: Should go for the play-offs, says FanZoner Brett Mendoza

Oscar Garcia: Should go for the play-offs, says FanZoner Brett Mendoza

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Brighton & Hove Albion FanZoner Brett Mendoza is hoping the Seagulls go for a spot in this season's Championship play-offs.

The Winter Olympics, more specifically Curling, has got me excited about the conclusion to this season for Brighton & Hove Albion.

It may seem odd, but it has happened. The sport of Curling has gained a cult following of people like me who only watch it during the Winter Olympics. It becomes addictive, and although slow in pace, very dramatic.

For Team GB's men, lead by Dave Murdoch, the last two games have been immensely dramatic. The league was so tight that it resulted in an extra play-off game. Here is where the comparison to Brighton's football season can begin. The play-offs, with automatic promotion unrealistic, is what we are all hoping for again, especially after the heart break of losing at that stage last season to Palace.

During the play-off match against Norway, the match came down to the final end. Norway lead 5-4. Murdoch had a shot to score one point and take the game into a further extra end to try and win it. Or he had a brave shot to take out a couple of Norwegian stones and claim two points and therefore victory and progression to the semi-final.

The saying is "fortune favours the brave," and this is exactly what Murdoch and his Team GB boys did. It was go home or glory, and we went for glory. Glory is exactly what we got! Murdoch's final stone was perfect and Britain won the match 6-5 at the death.

Unbelievably against Sweden in the semi-final, the exact same scenario happened again. The Swedes led 5-4 in the 10th and final end. Murdoch again had two options. The safe shot to get the one point to take the game to an extra end or the glory shot that would win the match and send Team GB to the final.

Again he chose glory, again the perfect shot was executed and victory was ours. A dramatic 6-5 win and we were through to the final. Now, the very worst case scenario now is a silver medal, which wasn't fancied before a stone was curled before the tournament started.

So how does this compare to football? In curling, the chance of safety or the chance of glory, glory was chosen. In football this, on the whole, is not the case. So many big games and big occasions are spoiled by teams' negativity.

The negativity is caused by a fear. The fear of losing. I see all too often teams set up to not lose, rather than set up to win. Gus Poyet was guilty of this with Brighton, even up to the top flight with Chelsea, Manchester United or England in World Cups and Euros, the teams were set up to avoid defeat.

It often resulted in boring games with lack of chances and often the lottery of penalty shoot outs. Big league games are like this a lot too. You get Sky Sports bigging up fixtures as being exciting with dramatic trailers, only to be left with boring 0-0's which doesn't really show off the Premier League as "the best in the world."

It's all because the managers and players don't want to lose to their rivals. Does satisfaction lie in winning or not losing, for me surely it has to be winning.

With Brighton's season coming to the business end, I would love us to show some Curling spirit, be brave, be bold and go more attacking for results that will see us finish in the all important play-off spots.

Under Garcia we have based our game on possession and like Curling our game hinges on patient build up. I thought the quote from Oscar was brilliant last week to the national press, "I like our team to have as much possession as possible as high up the pitch as possible, so if the other team win the ball back, they have to run 70 yards to get to our goal."

Our defensive record in the league is the best, 25 conceded in 30 games. It is a tremendous base to build upon in our own quest for glory. The problem for us lies with the number in the "goals scored" column. Just 32 goals scored. Only the teams in the relegation zone have scored fewer than us.

The way I see it now, we could either keep going the way were are going, being solid and plodding along picking up the odd win and relying on others losing to secure a play-off spot, or we could be brave, be more attacking and hopefully be rewarded at the end by cementing a play-off spot because we deserve it and having it in our own hands, making other teams results irrelevant. It makes games like tomorrow's against Wigan even more significant.

Don't get me wrong, I am not moaning at how we play, or our results so far. Garcia is in his first season in England, getting across his Barcelona influenced footballing philosophy across to our squad. In fact I would arguably say we have been more entertaining and attacking with Garcia than under Poyet at this level.

I like Oscar and his ways, and given the restrictions seemingly imposed on him by the club's ambition to rightly fulfil FFP requirements (don't even get me started on QPR, Forest etc), I believe Garcia has done a great job.

I especially like the way he has integrated youth teamers into the first team, not just as bit part, but in key positions. I don't think this would have happened under Gus and I love the emergence of Rohan Ince and Solly March in particular.

Ince has gained a cult following, gaining God like status in his role in the middle of midfield. Many have compared him to Yaya Toure. March has showed no fear on the wings, beating experienced players and exciting the crowd with his dribbling. At such young ages, they have been brilliant to watch. It also shows the vital importance that out new academy and training ground will play in our clubs future.

I would love us to go into the remaining games, more so the home games, with Ulloa upfront and two wingers. For me Buckley and March, with Kazenga coming on with half an hour left to dazzle the defenders with the great effect he has in his last few appearances. He really is a game changer. Not too much needs sorting at the back, we are solid.

As Oscar has said himself, we need to be more clinical. The goals scored is an issue, but Ulloa is finding form after injury and we have the imminent return of Mackail-Smith after a year on the treatment table. Add to that the speedy Rodriguez and the return to fitness of the classy Orlandi, I really believe we have what it takes to go up!

If we make it or not is another story, but I would at least like our season to end thinking at least we gave it a good go.

That was the case for Murdoch and his team. Play it safe like most football teams, take the game to an extra end and maybe they could've still lost. They would have spent the next few days, weeks, months, maybe even years only regretting not giving it a go.

I'll end with a quote from an unlikely source, taken from one of my favourite ever TV programmes, Ricky Gervais' Derek. A cheesy quote, from Kev, a pest, a bum who hasn't really achieved anything. He is giving a teary reflection on his sad life and it's a quote which I love, is quite poignant and one I hope the Brighton team can take as a philosophy going into the end of the season in our quest for Premier League football.

"I am not a failure because I didn't succeed. I am a failure because I didn't try."

Come on lads, let's finish with a flurry, glory beckons!!

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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