Brighton & Hove Albion v Newcastle United: Every word from Graham Potter's pre-match press conference

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter spoke to the press this afternoon ahead of Saturday's Premier League match with Newcastle United.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 3:51 pm
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter spoke to the press this afternoon ahead of Saturday's Premier League match with Newcastle United. Picture by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Among the talking points were last weekend's performance at Liverpool, Potter's relationship with Magpies caretaker boss Graeme Jones, the team's spirit, Enock Mwepu and more.

What is Dan Burn's fitness situation? Is he definitely out? Are there any fresh injures or illness concerns after Liverpool?

"No, Dan is not definitely out. He's made really good progress and we need to see this afternoon, and maybe tomorrow, if there's an outside chance of him being involved.

"There's no fresh problems. Danny Welbeck is making really good progress, as is Steven Alzate. He won't be ready for the game of course, but apart from that we're okay."

We still don't know if Newcastle are going to have a permanent manager by the time they get to Brighton, but Eddie Howe is the favourite. Is he a good choice for Newcastle?

"Eddie's a really experienced guy. He's been a fantastic Premier League manager.

"As for what Newcastle do, I have no idea and I haven't given it much thought. I've been concentrating on the team that we're going to play against Graeme Jones, who I know well.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him. Whatever Newcastle do is their business."

The next manager market still has your name as an outside shot for the Newcastle job. Can you reassure Brighton fans that it's not a job you're interested in?

"It feels like pretty much any job that's available at the moment, my name gets thrown into it. It must get stuck in computers or something.

"But as I've said before, I'm focused on what I'm doing here. I'm very happy here and, as I've said, I'm preparing the team for the game as well as I can, to face a team that will be fighting for points."

You go back a long way with Graeme Jones, your former teammate. He recommended you for the Östersund job. How close are you?

"He's my friend. I've known him for a long time.

"Boston [United] was the first time we came across each other and met each other. We played there for a short time and kept in touch, and followed each other's career from playing to coaching.

"I know him as a guy, and him as a football person. He's a fantastic friend, and he's been very supportive to me.

"I know his qualities and I know how competitive he is, and how organised his team will be.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him. Hopefully I can send him home a little bit unhappy, but afterwards we'll have a glass of wine and give each other a hug."

The performance at Liverpool was so encouraging and so bold in the selection. You must be tempted to stick with what you had at Anfield?

"I agree that the performance was good. We need to also acknowledge that it's a completely different game.

"We're at home, but everyone will be trying their best."

What has Enock Mwepu's goal against Liverpool done for his confidence?

"He's had a really good week. He came on and won the penalty against Manchester City, scored against Leicester.

"He's had to be patient. It's probably been a bit frustrating because he's been injured and he hasn't quite got up to speed.

"But he contributed at Liverpool in a really good way."

Brighton have never lost at Newcastle in the Premier League and Neal Maupay scored three times against them last season. How has Neal reacted to being dropped?

"He knows that we've got a squad that is competitive and that supports each other.

"Like any player, you're not happy when you don't play. You want to help the team and be on the pitch, but he's responded really well.

"He's supporting the team, he's supporting his teammates, and he's ready to help us."

You're eighth in the Premier League, just outside those European spots. Are you surprised by how well the team are doing or is this a real statement of what you and your coaching team have done?

"It's not about being surprised or not. We've been taking steps to improve over a period of time.

"As I've said many a time, sometimes you get results and sometimes you don't.

"This time last year, we didn't get the results our performances deserved, this year it's probably flipped the other way and we've managed to pick up some points.

"We want to be competitive in every game. We want to win but we also know that the opponent is their fighting for them as well. It's the Premier League.

"We're excited for the game and we know we've got a lot to do to keep improving."

You've got a never-say-die team spirit. How important is it to keep that going?

"I think it's vital, but it doesn't just come from the starting XI. It comes from the group.

"We try to always focus on the next thing and try not to get too distracted by the scoreline or anything else that we can't control.

"We try and control what we can and give everything until the final whistle.

"At the end of the day, you have to take whatever the result is and look to improve in the meantime.

"We've been quite consistent with that. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't, but that's sport at the highest level."

You've had 10 different goalscorers this season. Is that part of the success you're having?

"We've tried to attack well as a team, but you have to defend as a team. We've spoken about clean sheets as well and we've had quite a few of those this calendar year.

"That's not down to the goalkeeper or defenders, it's about the team and a collective attitude.

"It's similar for us attacking. We want to try and attack well as a team. It's not about individuals, it's about all of us trying to improve."

Leandro Trossard scored a great goal at Liverpool. Is he being encouraged to shoot more often and take a chance or two more?

"I wouldn't say so explicitly, it's maybe more that he's in a central position and he's a bit more advanced so the opportunities come more.

"I think it's all about decision making in the final third. It's what separates the top players from the good ones.

"Leo has got the quality to execute and decide. It's just about putting him in those positions as often as we can."

Aaron Connolly missed out completely last weekend and he's now been left out of the Republic of Ireland squad. How challenging is it for him at the moment?

"He picked up a heel injury after the Leicester game. It was only minor but we felt the game against Liverpool came too soon.

"He'd only had a couple of days recovery time, so that was disappointing for him.

"I thought he did well against Leicester. He worked hard for the team and he played his part in that.

"I imagine he will be disappointed and frustrated not to play for his country, because he wants to do that.

"But at the same time I respect the decision of Stephen [Kenny, Republic of Ireland manager]. You have to accept the coach makes those decisions and that's what Aaron does."