It has been a hell of a ride on the Gus Bus. Not just today at Leeds. Not just the last few weeks during the play-off push. Not just this season. Not just since we arrived at the Amex. But ever since Gustavo Augusto Poyet Dominguez arrived at the Withdean in 2009.
The man can coach almost as stylishly as he can wear a suit. In fact he almost rivals Mourinho in the suit-wearing stakes.
But here’s the weird thing.
I don’t think the Brighton crowd have ever really taken to him. I mean *really* taken to him.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Brighton fans ‘like’ Gus. But they don’t ‘love’ him. If the excellent North Stand Chat is an accurate barometer of Brighton fans’ feelings, there is often a lot of negativity spoken about Gus. Like how he doesn’t have a tactical Plan B. Like how he doesn’t play for the win. Like how he doesn’t make the right substitutions. Like how he talks about wanting to manage other clubs too much. Far more people speak up for Gus than speak against him, but there is a vocal minority who don’t like him, or at least don’t rate him, and more importantly there is rarely a vocal majority singing his praises at matches, particularly home matches at the Amex.
I want to go into a bit more detail on one of those charges on the above charge sheet (because the rest of them are absolute nonsense): that Gus talks about managing other clubs or wanting to manage at a higher level. We know he talked to Reading. He’s spoken about maybe managing Leeds. We certainly know he’d walk to Chelsea over hot coals if ever asked. Well, do you know what, it doesn’t matter. The only difference between Gus and other kiss-the-badge managers is that Gus tells the truth. Gus doesn’t love Brighton. He doesn’t want to spend his career with us. It is a stepping-stone for him and he effectively admits that in interviews. And anyone who takes issue with that is naïve. Anyone in any job in any walk of life and with ambition offered a bigger and better job elsewhere would take it (except me, if my boss is reading). That’s not disloyalty, it’s reality. I don’t dislike Gus for his supposed lack of loyalty. I like him for his honesty. He’s a professional, this is a job, he’ll do his best at it whilst he is with us, and he’ll go when he gets a better offer. Anyone who can’t warm to Gus as a result needs to take a massive reality check.
We Brighton fans – whether we were regulars at the Goldstone, Gillingham stalwarts, Withdean season-ticket holders or, hell yes, even if we are JCL plastics (we’re all equal by the way, but that’s for another day) – we Brighton fans need to pinch ourselves, hard, to make ourselves realise how lucky we are to have Gus.
Gus is box office. Gus is sexy football. Gus is lovely passing. Gus is setting us up not to lose (those draws don’t look so bad now, do they?). Gus motivates the team, both individually and as a group. Gus attracts big name signings. Gus knows how to find foreign gems. Gus is the man who has led us storming into the play-offs with style, rather than limp over the line or, as wasn’t totally unthinkable a couple of month’s ago, miss out completely. If as fans we don’t back Gus as vocally we can after all he has done, then we’ll never be happy with any manager that we ever have. Ever.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we should remember all that Gus has done for this club. If we lose in the play-off semis, let’s not turn on Gus. If we lose in the final, let’s not turn on Gus. If – dare I say this out loud – if we go up and get battered most Saturdays next season, let’s not turn on Gus. If Gus leaves us in the summer, whether or not we go up, let’s not turn on Gus.
And wouldn’t it be nice, deserved even, if we could get the Amex – and I mean the whole Amex because I know the North Stand and West Stand Upper do their bit – giving it a bit – or actually a lot – of ‘Gus Poyet’s Blue and White Army’ against Wolves on Saturday and in the play-offs (repeat IN THE PLAY-OFFS).
North Stand, over to you to conduct the orchestra.
The man deserves it.