'We're all in it for that matchday buzz' - Graham Potter on return of Brighton fans for Man City
Graham Potter is anticipating the return of fans to the Amex Stadium will make for a “really emotional” occasion when Brighton host Manchester City on Tuesday evening.
With coronavirus restrictions easing, a crowd of just under 8,000 Seagulls supporters are set to be in attendance for the clash with the Premier League champions.
Brighton boss Potter told a press conference on Monday: “I’m excited and looking forward to it.
“We’ve had this amazingly strange experience for the last year or however long, you get used to it and it becomes normal, but it shouldn’t be normal.
“Football is about the supporters, it’s about the experience of matchday, about intensifying all the feelings. We’re just delighted to have them back. It’s fantastic news.
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better game to play to be honest. Man City the champions, the best team. Hopefully everybody can come down and just enjoy live football, it’s wonderful.
“We’re in it for that buzz of matchday. We’ve had to adjust – even stuff like when you go overnight and stay in a hotel and there’s nobody else in the hotel, and you drive through the city and it’s Saturday afternoon and it’s empty.
“We’ve been through this horrendous time, it’s been terrible, so just to have the supporters back, hopefully it feels like we’re a step closer to getting everything a little bit back.
“It’s going to be really emotional I think, really exciting, really happy, a bit poignant, a bit of everything.”
When asked how important it was for his players to play the game and not the occasion, Potters said: “Yes – I also think we’re human beings who have missed the crowd for a long time.
“The emotion of the crowd, the game, is something we’ve missed, so that’s going to be interesting to see, because I think both teams and everybody will have to adapt to the crowd again. That’s an interesting factor.”
He added: “The crowd can affect things, and obviously we hope our supporters can help us because we’ll need some help in the game, we’re playing the champions, and it’s back to seeing if you can use that.”
As well as City being confirmed as title-winners last week, Brighton – who lie 17th in the table – were confirmed as staying up.
Potter said: “I expect a (City) team that will be very well prepared with the aim to win the game. They are highly motivated no matter what and they want to win.
“If we were still in relegation fight and playing this game, there’s clearly a different thought around it. That said, we still want to win the game. We’re professional people so we want to win, especially in front of our crowd. That’s motivation for us to try to get three points.”
Potter’s men head into their penultimate game of the campaign with 38 points, having earned 18 at home and 20 away.
He said: “I don’t think I’d put it down necessarily to crowd (absence) as an excuse for us, I think there’s more to it. We’ve drawn a lot of games, a little bit unlucky in some, we need to do certain things better in others.
“Performance-wise home and away we’ve had a consistent good level, but unfortunately it hasn’t given us the points we would like. We’re still positive but we also know the challenge is always to try to improve.”
Brighton’s first season under Potter last term saw them achieve their best Premier League haul of 41 points and equal their highest finish of 15th. They conclude their 2020-21 season by playing Arsenal away on Sunday.