I love fish and chips. Well actually I love the thought of fish and chips.
In fact, one of my first dates with the woman who has put up with me for so many years was out of the paper on Brighton seafront.
That rendezvous, and that lady, has lived up to every hope I had on that blustery evening.
However, I am always left with a rather sickly feeling having consumed my portion of fried the cod and potatoes. The smell is great. The mouth starts to salivate. Afterwards though, I often think ‘I’m not sure I enjoyed that’. And I know it’s not good for me! Many Albion supporters could have been forgiven for having that feeling on Sunday around 5 o’clock.
Heading into the match against Manchester United at Old Trafford the Seagulls were in good form with three wins out of four. As for United, well we weren’t sure what to expect as they are a team in transition.
We were reminded by head coach Graham Potter that Liverpool couldn’t win against their rivals earlier in the season but it felt like a big opportunity for a win at the historic stadium for the first time ever.
When I interviewed the players after the defeat they were naturally disappointed but there was also a sense of “we expected more”.
They weren’t at their best but it shows how high the expectation in the squad has grown. The squad seems to have a strong self-belief and high expectations but it also appears that each and every player demands even more from themselves.
There was a discipline amongst the players under the previous manager but they now appear to be empowered to make decisions themselves as long as they are open to ideas, thought and comments from others. The players are keen to enjoy the better performances but also give honest assessments of where they could have done better as well, on both a team and individual level.
I am sure supporters who pay the money and give up their time to follow the team are pleased with the new style of play but I think they should also be proud of the way the players expect so much of themselves.
This may explain why they were so disappointed in the north west on Sunday. Credit must go to United, they were fast and furious but if Brighton and Hove Albion are to fulfil the chairman’s vision of being a top 10 club, they must also think like a Top 10 club. Humility is essential but there is also a need to set your sights as high as possible. The Albion continue a tough run of games with clashes against the top two sides in the Premier League, Leicester at home and Liverpool away.
People talk about them as “free hits” but the two Seagulls’ players I interviewed after the loss at the weekend said they must believe in themselves and in their own ability. I am not sure they will be allowed a portion of greasy fish ‘n’ chips during the international break but hopefully they won’t have that slightly queasy feeling afterwards.
If the Albion continue to aim high, trust in their ability and perform to the maximum they may yet get that feeling of satisfaction of their highest ever finish in the Premier League.
That will certainly be something to feel good about. I’m off for a salad.
Johnny Cantor is a commentator for BBC Sussex
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