I was fairly optimistic at the start of this season, if you’d read Episode 4 you’d know that Ayoze Perez had joined my relegated Brighton side in an effort to push us straight back up, and I’d got a couple of others in mind.
The others mainly came at a cost. Russian keeper Alex Kovalev came in with a big reputation as a hot prospect and a 9m transfer fee, Leeds midfielder Alex Mowatt came on a Bosman, and Michael Keane strengthened the defence for an inflated 7m deal. Muhamed Besic, signed from BMG for 700k, took the captain’s armband, and young striker Silvano Sordem was signed as our bright young hope for the future.
Otherwise, I was mainly stuck with what was left of last year’s Prem basement boys. To get Ayoze Perez playing at his best, I played my usual 4-1-2-3 narrow formation with him as my forward trequartista. Andre Horta, a loan signing from Liverpool last season, was brought back for his midfield creativity, and 16 year old defensive midfielder Joe Southern from Arsenal arrived on a deal with so many bonuses, a bank manager would have been drooling.
We started off quite well, 3 wins on the trot and several goals from Ayoze gave me optimism for the future. Then a penalty loss to Kidderminster in the Capital One Cup set off a month of defeats and draws, ending only after 6 weeks with a 3-0 win against struggling Blackburn. To get this win, I’d switched to a wide variation of my 4-1-2-3 with benchwarmer Izzy Brown and striker Mamadou Tounkara out wide. Not having planned for a wide formation, I was low on options. These two players would end up playing wide for the foreseeable future, until I could buy replacements in January.
A good run followed, Izzy Brown and Tounkara both chipping in with goals to cover up an uncharacteristic drought from star man Ayoze. We were still conceding at least one goal a game, but we were outscoring our opponents…mostly. Then came the month of hell.
14 goals conceded in 5 games, only 4 goals scored, no points in December. The players revolted. Chocolate biscuits were handed out to appease them, and the board was promised a big name signing in January to stop the rot.
Wins at bottom sides Bradford and Wigan came either side of a 6-1 battering in the FA Cup v Man City, and a new 4-2-3-1 formation left us undefeated in the league in January.
In terms of the high profile transfer I’d promised the board, things weren’t quite so rosy. Rony Lopes from Monaco was 7m too expensive for my pitiful 2m budget, while no big freebies were on offer. With less than a week to go in the window, I saw my chance. PSG centre back Eliaquim Mangala, formerly of Man City, on the loan list for a contribution of 25k a week. I jumped at this final chance to save my Brighton career, and entered negotiations. PSG were more than happy to let him shore up my defence, and I awaited the next day when he would agree personal terms.
As I was hanging up the Welcome to Brighton banners, I glanced at my news screen and saw the terrifying headline “Brighton part ways with Dwerryhouse”.
Not even a board meeting to apologise, the selfish shareholders, not understanding that literally hours later Eli Mangala would get off the coach at the AMEX centre, issued the order that I was fired.
I am actually gutted about this, as I was sure that with a bit of time, the youngsters I’d signed would have developed brilliantly, and we’d have walked the league maybe next season. I shall be keeping an eye on them, and maybe I can pick them back up in my next job!
If anyone has any ideas about what sort of job to take next, feel free to tweet me or comment on the blog!