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The Gus Poyet Years

After just short of four years, Gus Poyet's reign has come to an inglorious end. But forgetting about how it ended, it remains one of the best periods of time in the history of Brighton and Hove Albion. Flowing football, record amounts of money being thrown about despite Poyet's claims of not having a good budget, a brand new stadium, record attendances and silverware in the trophy cabinet.

We take a look back at some of the best and worst moments of the era of the Gus Bus.

Best Match - Peterborough United 0-3 Brighton - 30/10/10
It was first v second in nPower League One as the Albion made the trip to face Peterborough. Posh manager Gary Johnson had described the game as a cup final and urged their fans to pack out the famous old ground. Those who did attend saw his side completely and utterly embarrassed as the Albion ran riot to win 3-0. Inigo Calderon and Ashley Barnes with a brace were the men on target with Elliott Bennett missing a penalty and goalkeeper Joe Lewis pulling off save after save. It's no exaggeration to say that it could have been double figures on the day that the "we're f**king brilliant" chant began. Nightmare on London Road indeed.
Second: Charlton Athletic 0-4 Brighton - 16/10/10
Just two weeks before that, the Albion went to another promotion rival in Charlton and were just as convincing, winning 4-0 at The Valley. Gus wanted his side to be more ruthless after the referee cost them in their previous draw with Bournemouth, and he couldn't have asked for a much better response.
Third: Brighton 3-0 Crystal Palace - 17/03/13
Despite all that has happened since the St Patrick's Day Massacre, nobody can take away the brutal destruction dished out to rivals Crystal Palace at The Amex. Gus' men outplayed and outfought the Eagles with Leonardo Ulloa's brace and a stunning David Lopez free-kick doing the damage.

Worst Match - Brighton 0-2 Crystal Palace - 13/05/13
The end of Gus Poyet's reign came in the worst way possible in the form of a 2-0 play-off semi final defeat at home to Palace. The hard work had seemingly be done after a 0-0 draw at Selhurst three nights previously but having destroyed the Eagles with pace and power down the flanks at The Amex just two months earlier, Poyet left out Kazenga LuaLua as Palace snatched victory late on - two goals from Wilfried Zaha showing just why Manchester United had paid so much for him. The result - Poyet's toys being thrown out the pram over his budget again, poo in the away changing and a suspension for the management team. A far from dignified end.
Second: Coventry City 2-0 Brighton - 31/12/11
Having lost the last three without scoring, Gus changed to a 3-5-2 formation away at relegation threatened Coventry. The result was disastrous as the Albion failed to have a shot on goal against the divisions worst side in an uninspiring 2-0 loss to slip to 16th in the table. Happy New Year.
Third: West Ham United 6-0 Brighton - 14/04/12
There was still a chance the Albion could make the play-offs prior to their visit to West Ham, another side gunning for the top six. That was all but gone after ten minutes with the Hammers already 3-0 up, and they'd rack up another three by the end of the game to inflict a 6-0 defeat.

Best Goal Scored - Liam Bridcutt v Carlisle United - 05/03/11
Coming towards the back end of the season, a big three points was needed when Carlise United visited Withdean. In a topsy turvy game in which Gus Poyet's men had been far from their best, the visitors from Cumbria thought they had earned a point when Harry Arter scored in the 90th minute to level things at 3-3. They hadn't counted on Liam Bridcutt popping up a few minutes later with a dramatic winner as, with the ball bouncing around the penalty box, he hit a powerful left footed volley from 20 yards that flew into the bottom corner to lead to mental running track scenes as the Theatre of Trees exploded. The stuff of champions, the stuff of dreams.
Second: Will Buckley v Doncaster Rovers - 06/08/11
Having already scored the equaliser from the bench, Will Buckley marked the perfect debut when he latched onto Craig Noone's pass in the 96th minute of the first league game at The Amex before scoring to give the Albion a 2-1 win to start life in their new ground.
Third: Fran Sandaza v Oldham Athletic - 25/09/10
Not the best goal you'll ever see but in terms of importance, right up there. Another 90th minute winner at Withdean which lead to mental running track scenes, this time the Spaniard came off the bench to bundle home on his debut to send Albion top of League One.

Worst Goal Conceded - Comedyfending v Colchester United - 05/03/11
There was nothing to play for when the Albion visited Colchester United on April Bank Holiday Monday. The home side were safe in mid table, the Seagulls Champions so quite why Sky were broadcasting the game was anybodies guess. Thankfully, the Brighton defence did their best to entertain the nation with the sort of kafuffle not seen since Colin Hawkins. Casper Ankergren made a hash of an initial save palming it straight onto Tommy Elphick's boot. His wild swing of a clearance only succeeded in smashing it into the shin of Inigo Calderon who, having retrieved the ball, inexplicably passed it across his own unguarded net for Ian Henderson to smash home.
Second: Casper Ankergren v Nottingham Forest - 30/03/13
The Albion looked to be heading for a huge three points away at play-off rivals Nottingham Forest when, with just seconds remaining in the encounter, Casper Ankergren let the simplest of shots from Henri Lansbury creep straight between his legs for 2-2.
Third: Peter Brezovan v Wycombe Wanderers - 28/12/09
With just five minutes to go before half time, a routine catch on the goal line turned into a complete disaster for Sexy Pete as he somehow managed to drop the sort of ball that even a Granny wearing a pair of roller skates would hold, presenting John Mousinho with the easiest of tap ins.

Best Debut - Will Buckley v Doncaster Rovers - 06/08/11
The joint-second most expensive player in Brighton and Hove Albion history had to settle for a place on the bench in the opening Amex match against Doncaster Rovers. With the Seagulls trailing 1-0, he was introduced in the second half as Gus sought to get something out of this historic occasion. Luckily, Buckley delivered by first notching the equaliser with 83 minutes on the clock and then going one better and netting the winning goal on 96 to send The Amex wild and instantly write himself into Albion legend. The choruses of "William Buckley runs down the wing for me" were never ending around the concourses that night as a new hero was born.
Second: Matt Sparrow v Swindon Town - 07/08/10
Facing last seasons beaten play-off finalists in the first game of the next campaign was never going to be an easy start. Thankfully for Gus, his goalscoring midfield replacement for Andrew Crofts got off the a flyer as Matt Sparrow netted both goals in a 2-1 win.
Third: Peter Brezovan v Exeter City - 05/12/09
Graeme Smith was, for want of a better word, an atrocious goalkeeper. Gus realised this very quickly and so Peter Brezovan was drafted in for a debut at Exeter in place of the injured Michel Kuipers. He saved a penalty and kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win, looking bloody sexy in the process.

Worst Penalty Miss - Ryan Harley v Millwall - 18/10/11
The Albion's penalty record under Gus Poyet was so bad that at Withdean the man himself would hide behind the dugout so he didn't have to watch. They didn't come much worse than Ryan Harley's miss at Miiiilllllllll. With no win in four, the chance to take a first half lead at The Den would have been greatly appreciated by everybody concerned and that opportunity was presented when a spot kick was awarded. Harley had rather foolishly said in the press prior to the game that he didn't feel the need to practice set pieces and those words came back to haunt him as his effort from 12 yards was more like a back pass and the easiest save of the night for David Forde.
Second: Ashley Barnes v Bolton Wanderers - 24/11/12
Struggling to break down teams at home, a penalty was just what the Albion needed when resilient Bolton visited. Unfortunately, not only did Ashley Barnes miss the spot kick, he somehow managed to stick the rebound straight at Adam Bogdan as well with the whole goal at his mercy.
Third: Elliott Bennett v FC United of Manchester - 27/11/10
In the midst of the worst run of league form of the season, the last thing the Albion needed was an FA Cup replay away at Evo Stik Premier FC United of Manchester. But that is exactly what they got when Elliott Bennett's 90th minute penalty was saved by Sam Ashton in a 1-1 draw.

Worst Red Card - Ashley Barnes v Bolton Wanderers - 09/03/13
It's hard to imagine that they'll be a more stupid red card in the Albion's history. Having just returned from a three match ban for a wild two footed tackle that resulted in a dismissal at Sheffield Wednesday, Ashley Barnes decided to go one better away at Bolton and get himself sent off for attempting to trip over the referee. Those who were there that day at the Reebok could see something brewing, with the strikers frustrations clearly mounting as he flung himself to the ground on a few occasions in a vein attempt to win a spot kick. Nobody could have imagined that anger would manifest itself though in the way it did, with a seven match ban following.
Second: Gordon Greer v Rochdale - 14/08/10
Not only was this Gordon Greer's debut, it was also his first appearance since a red for Swindon in the play-off semi finals cost him the chance of leading them out at Wembley. Swinging an elbow into an opponents face off the ball for a straight red wasn't the best start to his Albion career.
Third: Mauricio Taricco v Woking - 16/11/10
In a difficult FA Cup first round replay against tricky Conference South opponents that is in the second half of extra time you ideally want your assistant manager to lead by example. Cue Tano's first playing appearance for six years coming to an early end for mouthing off at the referee.

Best Signing - Liam Bridcutt - Free Transfer
This might not just be the best piece of business of the Gus Poyet era but perhaps in Brighton and Hove Albion history. Liam Bidcutt was out-of-contract having been released by Chelsea and with a couple of hit and miss loan spells to his name. Gus snapped him up on a free and within a few weeks he'd replaced Radostin Kishishev in the team. There was no looking back from there as he became a mainstay in the side that won League One before winning the clubs Player of the Season award in both seasons in the Championship as well as an international debut for Scotland. The key man for the possession football we've played under Gus.
Second: Wayne Bridge - loan
It may only have been a loan deal, but Wayne Bridge was an inspired signing for the Albion. Forking out a rumoured 10k a week of his 90k wages represented superb value and he repaid that faith in full, becoming a popular member of the squad and brining Frankie to The Amex.
Third: Vicente - free
How many people thought they'd see a man with over 30 caps for Spain and who was once wanted for 30m by Real Madrid play in the stripes? That's what we got with Vicente. Who knows what might have been if he was used more by Gus?

Worst Signing - Ryan Harley - 250,000
Gus spent the best part of a year tracking Ryan Harley before finally managing to secure his man after paying 250,000 to Swansea City in August 2011. The opening signs looked good - a stunning free-kick on his debut against Peterborough. But that was about as good as it got as he was quickly worked out as being a work shy player whose best achievements seemed to be saving the club money on the laundry bill by never getting his kit sweaty, let alone dirty. The epitome of the irony surrounding Gus' budget complaints when he wasted such large amounts of money on players like that.
Second: Billy Paynter - loan
Another player long tracked by Gus who we managed to land after a year long chase on-loan from The Leeds United. The natural heir to Glenn Murray, except that he failed to score during his month at the club earning the nickname "Barn Door Billy" along the way.
Third: Stephen Dobbie - 300,000
A panic buy at the end of the August window when Gus thought Craig Mackail-Smith would be leaving. As it was, he didn't and Dobbie was hardly given a chance and when he was looked far from interested. To rub salt into the wounds, went on-loan to Palace and helped them make the play-offs.

Best Gus Moment - Singing "We're f**king brilliant"
Brighton seafront in May is the sort of place you want to take your kids to relax, have fun and enjoy the sun. The last thing you'd want then is to hear a Uruguayan man with a microphone singing "we're f**king brilliant" to a large crowd gathered below him on the beach. But that is exactly what Gus did when he was offered the chance to make a speech at the League One Champions parade that ended in Madeira Drive. After thanking his players, Tony Bloom and the fans the manager to decided to conduct a little sing song with his chosen track being that which had belted out from the terraces of London Road back in October during the finest game of the Poyet era.
Second: Being sent off in the first game at The Amex
Having spent the week leading up to Doncaster's visit to The Amex preaching about how it would be vital for his side to control themselves and not get overawed, Gus promptly finds himself losing control and getting overawed by the occasion as he is sent from the dugout before half time.
Third: Hiding behind the Withdean dugout for penalties
We've already noted it in the Penalty Miss category, but Gus disappearing behind the dugout with his hands over his eyes every time we got a penalty at Withdean needs another mention. That is how bad we were at kicks from 12 yards in that title winning season.

Worst Gus Moment - Wading into Suarez v Evra
To nearly everybody in the country except maybe the odd member of the EDL or BNP, Luis Suarez calling Patrice Evra "blacky blacky blacky" and "negro" is completely unacceptable. Not to Gus, who decided to wade into the row by defending Suarez's behaviour in his clash with the Manchester United left back. Frankly, it had nothing to do with him and other than sticking up for his fellow Uruguayan it was hard to see what on earth he was playing at. It brought negative press coverage to the Albion and he was told afterwards to stay out of anything not to do with him or the Albion in the media - which he ignored when partially defending Suarez after that bite.
Second: Palace post-game rant
Gus had a squad with two England internationals, players from Spain's top flight, 7m worth of attacking talent and a man once wanted by Real Madrid for 30m. Palace's play-off final winning team cost less than Craig Mackail-Smith. The budget rants and threats of resignation were pathetic.
Third: Storming off five minutes before the end at Burnley
With the Albion still harbouring genuine play-off hopes, they find themselves 1-0 down away at Burnley. With five minutes left on the clock and time still to get back in the game, Gus Poyet decides to walk off. Little wonder then his team ended up giving up the fight as well.

There are so many more great (and bad!) Gus moments we haven't been able to mention - so what were your highlights from the Gus Bus years? Let us know by using the comments form below


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