Roberto De Zerbi is ready to make his mark at Brighton

It’s been a long time since an Albion boss took over a team that was doing well during a season.

You have to go back almost 20 years to Mark McGhee.

Roberto De Zerbi is in that position now – albeit two leagues up and on a much bigger stage.

He’s found himself in a situation where Albion has a lot to build but also something to lose.

It’s not just about ripping it up and starting over.

This is not a case of “old trainer bad, new trainer good” as it sometimes seems when it comes to dugout changes.

That’s why De Zerbi spoke to the media yesterday about a balancing act.

He wants to change things, especially how Albion works with the ball.

But he can’t do too much too soon.

And has no pressing need when it comes to how results have been going this season – and have been since April.

De Zerbi takes charge for the first time as Albion head to Anfield today.

He was on the training ground with some, but not all, of his coaches.

Several players have been absent from international duty.

He told reporters yesterday he wouldn’t change too much right away.

But there’s no doubt he sees opportunities to improve and evolve from the very strong foundations that have been built bit by bit over the last few years.

De Zerbi held his first Albion press conference 11 days ago.

He wore a suit and tie and was flanked by the club’s senior figures – Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and David Weir.

His first pre-game media session took place in the same room yesterday, but felt a bit more familiar.

He was dressed in workout clothes, ready for work, and with only his interpreter – whose services he often but not always called upon – at his side on the top table.

There were a joke or two and smiles.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” he said effectively in Italian when asked about footage of him participating in a training session with his boots on.

But he left no doubt that serious changes were ahead.

Speaking of his early days, he said: “It was a time when you feel like you’re underwater.

“There is so much to do.

“The club is very well organized and we have a lot to do.

“Yesterday (Thursday) I had two meetings about things outside of football – questions with other coaches and Premier League rules.

“But I just want to focus on the pitch.

“The players are brave, they trust themselves, they know they are a good team.

“But we all have to be very humble together.

“They have their heads on their shoulders and they know where they’re coming from.

“Apart from the mentality, I would like to add something of my own.

“My situation is not easy at the moment.

“I got on a team that was already doing well, that changed head coaches, but I don’t know how to do things like Potter.

“I can only do that and I hope to do well what I know.

“I have a lot of thoughts about not doing too much, but at the same time I want to do something.”

That “something” included meetings with experienced players.

He said: “I spoke to the defenders a lot – Lewis Dunk, Joel Veltman and Webster.

“They’re the most important players in the squad for me because they start from them, they start building, they push us to dominate the game.

“But I spoke to Mac Allister and Caicedo on Thursday when they came back from their national teams.

“I also spoke to March because Solly is a key player for me.

“I want him to understand why he’s going to be important to me.

“I want him to have responsibilities that will help increase the number of goals because I trust him completely. I also spoke to Trossard. The conversation was more or less the same as what I said to Solly.

“I spoke to Welbeck, Estupinan, Lamptey and to the younger players.

“The day is long, 24 hours, so I have a lot of time to talk to the players, to talk about every single detail.”

He was later asked specifically about Billy Gilmour. He replied: “I like Gilmour a lot. I spoke to him too.

“It’s clear that Mac Allister, Lallana, Caicedo and Gross played a lot more games than Gilmour.

“But when I prepare the line-ups and start the starting XI, I don’t look at their ID cards.

“So if he deserves it, he will play, as will (Levi) Colwill, who is a very good player. He’s young, but I’m thinking of him.”

De Zerbi will split the group in half next week and do two sessions a day to give each player more time.

The work has started. But the new Albion will not be built in a day.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/23006785.roberto-de-zerbi-ready-make-mark-brighton/?ref=rss Roberto De Zerbi is ready to make his mark at Brighton

Fry Electronics Team

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