Ian Hart: Albion’s rollercoaster season continues

Tring Athletic got back to winning ways at the weekend

Tring Athletic got back to winning ways at the weekend

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Back-to-back home wins have taken Albion back to the top of the Championship and the rollercoaster season continues.

Like everyone else, I’m genuinely excited, tempered by the fact that I’ve followed the Albion long enough to know that things don’t always run smoothly. The mind games have already begun amongst our potential promotion rivals, with Reading manager Jaap Stam stating after his side regained third spot it was unlikely the Royals would catch either the Albion or Newcastle. While he’s probably right, the statement in itself is almost design-ed to plant seeds of doubt within the top two.

The wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff showed varying qualities of potential champions.

Friday night’s encounter was a classic that had everything except a streaker. A great opener from Knockaert, a bizarre own goal pegging the Albion back, a red card for Glenn Murray, though with a ball going towards his face at full pelt what else was he supposed to do? Then a memorable and perhaps pivotal double penalty save from David Stockdale.

We still had time for an Albion winner and Wednesday finishing the game with nine players after two late red cards.

One thing is for sure, the Amex crowd and the Sky television audience certainly got their money’s worth. The Cardiff game was a different entity altogether, with Murray suspended and the Welsh visitors adopting one of the most negative and defensive stances seen in the history of the Amex.

Eventually the Albion came good and ultimately 1-0 flattered Neil Warnock’s team.

It’s a break from league action this weekend with the visit to Non League Lincoln City in the FA Cup for what many see as a potential giantkilling. As I said last week, a cup exit at this stage could have a negative effect on Albion’s season. There’s no doubt Chris Hughton will make wholesale changes, the question is will Brighton’s squad players prove too strong for their National League opponents? I’m fairly confident they will, my only concern is that Lincoln might manage to take it to a replay, which is probably an Amex date we could do without.

Then come the middle of next week, it’s the closing of the transfer window, so far it’s been a quiet one for the Albion, though I wouldn’t rule out a marquee signing. Any fans thinking the likes of Jordan Rhodes or Ross McCormack might be on the Albion’s radar would be wide of the mark, Robbie Keane perhaps? Stranger things have happened.

I did smile this week when the enigmatic former Albion boss Gus Poyet stated he hoped the Albion would get promoted and finish the job he started.

I always found Gus very amenable in my dealings with him, we did a Q&A at Burgess Hill FC at the time when Nicky Forster was in dispute with the Albion and I found his stance and public views on the matter fascinating.

If I’m ever lucky to bump into him again I would be intrigued to hear the answer for a particular question I’d like to ask him. We all have made mistakes in our lives, be it work or personal, and more often than not learn from these mistakes. I’d like to ask him, if he had his time again, would he have tried harder to have kept Glenn Murray at the Albion in 2011?

I and many others are of the opinion if he had, the Albion would have definitely gone up already and, perhaps even more significantly, stabilised and stayed in the top flight.

He didn’t and we’ve probably had to wait that little bit longer to get in the top division but, when it happens, it will be worth the wait.

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