Brighton and Hove Albion produced one of the shocks of the FA Cup Third Round on Saturday after beating Newcastle United at the Amex Stadium, yet Gus Poyet, last month, had some harsh words for the quality of Championship sides. Is he now wrong to say what he said?
Last month Gus Poyet, the Brighton and Hove Albion manager, described the Championship as “average”. Essentially, it is his view that most teams in the division are of a similar standard, and that there is a dearth of top-quality sides.
Poyet inferred that, as the Championship is “average”, the gulf in class between second division sides and those from the Premier League is a particularly sizeable one.
And yet, despite his insistence, Poyet appeared to prove himself wrong on Saturday.
His Brighton team dominated from start to finish in their FA Cup Third round tie against Newcastle United. The same Newcastle United that finished 5th in the top flight last season, four points outside the Champions League spaces. According to the Uruguayan’s logic, Alan Pardew’s men should really have steamrolled the Seagulls.
But they really didn’t. Brighton had 63 per cent possession at the Amex stadium, and thanks to a pair of classy goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins, they ran out comfortable winners. Newcastle rarely threatened Casper Ankergren’s goal, whilst Gordon Greer, Liam Bridcutt and company were comfortable throughout.
Of course, Newcastle were nowhere near full-strength; none of Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cissé were involved, for various reasons, and in truth, Pardew fielded a second-string eleven. Newcastle were also forced to play the last half-hour a man down, after Shola Ameobi was sent off. But this is not the point.
There are many who view the Premier League as an all-powerful entity, and the Championship as a completely separate collection of unattractive, weak teams, all pathetically scrambling for promotion to the Promised Land that is the top flight.
But this is not right; if it was, then Newcastle’s second eleven should have breezed past a Brighton team that is currently in 9th place in the Championship table.
A combination of intense media coverage and relentless advertising has seen people come to think of the Premier League in this way, as being detached from the rest of the football league, as being exceptional. But, in reality, it isn’t as special as one might like to think. Saturday’s result proves that.
The question then, is whether or not Poyet was right – is the Championship really “average”?
He might be wrong. Maybe the quality of the division is higher than he thinks, and it was this class that enabled his Brighton side to condemn Newcastle to their cup exit.
On the other hand though, might he be closer to the truth?
If he is right, and the Championship does deserve to be described as “average”, then maybe, just maybe, might one argue that the Premier League is “average” too? Or, at least, couldn’t it be suggested that a number of top flight sides are a lot worse than fans might think they are?
Result like that which occurred at the Amex stadium suggest that maybe there isn’t really such a gulf in quality between the two leagues at all…
Was Gus Poyet right to label the Championship average? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below.