Why Graham Potter and his £200m Brighton squad misunderstood the meaning behind the boos at the Amex Stadium

First things first, the booing at full time of Brighton 0-0 Leeds was unnecessary. It is possible though to think that it should not have happened, but at the same time understand why it did.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 10:09 am
Graham Potter took offence to the boos at the Amex Stadium after the final whistle against Leeds United

The smattering of boos were not directed at the players. They were not directed at the manager. They were born out of frustration that Albion fans have been reliving the same matchday experience over and over again for 18 months now - and that in that time, the club have failed to do the one thing needed to change the story.

In the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors has to fall in love and prove himself to be a decent person to stop February 2 playing out on repeat. Until he does, he is stuck reporting on the weather from a freezing cold Pennsylvania.

For Brighton, their Groundhog Day is dominating games of football, missing countless opportunities and subsequently failing to win matches.

The clear and obvious method for ending this cycle is to sign a clinical centre forward capable of doing radical things like putting the ball in the back of the net from inside the six yard box.

That four transfer windows have now passed without Brighton acquiring the final piece of the jigsaw to turn them from water treaders into a top 10 team is what was being booed post-Leeds.

It was frustration manifesting itself as noise from a minority of supporters, similar to how Phil Connors' frustration manifests itself in him driving his car off a cliff. Thankfully, no Brighton fan has taken such drastic measures... yet.

More intriguing than the booing was the reaction of Graham Potter to it. Potter is an intelligent bloke and yet he did not seem to grasp what the complaining was born from.

The Brighton manager said after the game that he was disappointed, found it perplexing and then asked for a lesson in the history of the Albion.

The last of those Potter comments was a not-so-subtle way of saying Brighton fans should not complain because the club has spent most of its existence being, well, not very good.

Such an argument always strikes me as being weird. It is essentially saying you can never criticise unless what is happening on the pitch is worse than it has ever been before.

In the Albion's case, that means the team would have to drop to 24th place in League Two before complaints could be justified.

Potter could oversee three consecutive relegations and still that would not eclipse the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, so instead we should all shut up and be thankful that Michael Mahoney-Johnson and Damien Hilton aren't leading the line again.

Even if we now have a squad costing over £200 million to put together, which surely makes comparisons to any other era - let alone when the club was homeless - completely pointless.

The most interesting aspect of Potter's was how prickly and defensive he was, despite the booing coming from only a small number of Brighton supporters.

People talk about Potter being a future England manager one day. Gareth Southgate has led England to a World Cup semi final, a Nations League semi final and a European Championship final and yet his every decision is questioned by millions of football fans. A huge number think he should be sacked.

If Potter ever did get a crack at the top job, how on earth would he handle the pressure and the questioning that comes with it if a few Albion fans booing the lack of striker signing can get under his skin?

It has never been more apparent that Brighton need a new, clinical centre forward. Nobody needed to hear the booing to realise that.

And just because Mahoney-Johnson and Hilton led the line in 1998, it doesn't mean that Brighton fans have no right to expect better in 2021.

These are heady days indeed to support the Albion, but they could be even better if Tony Bloom can find a spare £30 million down the back of the sofa.