It’s Burnley, not Barcelona – but Garcia taking tiki taka to Brighton

POSSESSION FOOTBALL: Brighton boss Oscar Garcia honed his football philosophy at Barcelona
POSSESSION FOOTBALL: Brighton boss Oscar Garcia honed his football philosophy at Barcelona

“It’s Burnley, not Barcelona”, was a phrase once uttered by former Clarets boss Stan Ternent as the club struggled to get back on an even keel after the ITV Digital crash.

Indeed, it became the title of a Dave Thomas book, based on the events of the 2002/03 season.

However, while there are few similarities between BB10 4BX and the Catalan capital, tomorrow’s opponents Brighton are trying to create a piece of the Mediterranean coast on the south coast.

After the club sacked Gus Poyet for gross misconduct over the summer, they turned to former Barca midfielder and coach Oscar Garcia to maintain Albion’s possession-based style of play.

Garcia is relatively inexperienced, in only his second senior managerial post, having last season landed the job at Israeli club Maccabi Tel-Aviv, who he led to the championship for the first time in 10 years.

However, he was considered an outsider for the post at Camp Nou in July when Tito Vilanova quit to undergo further treatment for throat cancer.

His appointment at Brighton annoyed league newcomers Newport County’s boss Justin Edinburgh, who, prior to the Welsh club’s Capital One Cup win at the Amex, said: “A lot of foreign managers have done fantastically well in this country. But I see a lot of unknown managers come in and get jobs over English managers.

“I don’t know Garcia but, for me, there’s a lot of good, young managers here who have been successful that I feel could do a better job at Brighton than him – and that disappoints me.”

But Garcia has learned from the best at Barca, including Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff, and he said: “Johan Cruyff was for me the most important coach to learn from about football, to learn a very clear philosophy.

“I learnt a lot when I played for him. In every training session I learnt something and that is what I want for my players. If they are better players as individuals, we will be a better team.

“I cannot explain everything because then we would be letting other teams know, but I want a team that wants to attack, wants to look for the opening goal, to keep the ball, to have a possession game.

This is my style. I think it is the best style, first of all for the fans.

“They will enjoy this kind of football and secondly because I think it’s the best style to win games.”

Winning games was a problem for Albion until last week at St Andrew’s, beating Birmingham with a goal from Wales midfielder Andrew Crofts, after a difficult summer.

Poyet has said he will take the club to court over his sacking, while key players Wayne Bridge and Dean Hammond left at the end of loan spells.

There has been a crisis at full back with Bridge not replaced until last Friday when Stephen Ward came on loan from Wolves for the season.

Right back Bruno suffered a hamstring injury at Leeds on the opening day, while Liam Bridcutt (groin) will be out for several weeks, and Andrea Orlandi has missed the last two games with a knee injury.

Craig Mackail-Smith - who was on hand to deliver his own child last Wednesday! - is a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury, and Will Hoskins has a knee problem.

Brighton are expected to line-up (4-1-2-3): Kuszcazk; Calderon, Greer, Upson, Ward; Andrews; Crofts, Agustien; Buckley, Ulloa, Lopez.

Man to watch

Leo Ulloa is expected to reach the 20-goal mark in his first full season in England.

The big Argentinian centre-forward – signed from Spanish club Almeria in January – netted in the first two league games this term.