Gladiator De Zerbi fighting to take Brighton tor a European spot

Gladiator Roberto De Zerbi fighting to take Brighton to a European spot… with come-from-behind win at Wolves highlighting the Seagulls’ continental ambitions

  • Roberto De Zerbi already has Brighton playing his style of passing football
  • The Italian coach has emphasised the importance of positional fluidity
  • With the club currently in fourth, Europe is an evermore genuine possibility

As Roberto De Zerbi trundled over to the away end with both arms aloft, one thought of a scene in Gladiator. ‘Are you not entertained?’ shouts Maximus Decimus Meridius, surveying a coliseum full of spectators in awe of his talents.

And just like in Gladiator, the crowd chanted his name like he was an emperor. All of the away fans — and thousands more at home — are now disciples of ‘De Zerbismo’, as they call it in Italy. Brighton fought past a stubborn Wolves in style.

The team pass the ball like it is a hot potato — no player taking more than two touches — and each move is progressive and fast, building up in a 4-2-4 shape.

Roberto De Zerbi has moulded his Brighton squad with his passing philosophy at its core

De Zebri hailed the impact of Adam Lallana and said the former Liverpool star would one day be a ‘very good coach’

‘This was my best game at Brighton in terms of quality of play,’ said De Zerbi.

It took Brighton players a month or so to become accustomed to his philosophy but now De Zerbismo is wreaking havoc.

Brighton’s game is all about fluidity and transitions. Leandro Trossard was the No 9 on the team sheet but popped up all over the pitch, while Adam Lallana made late runs from deep but was often the most advanced attacker.

De Zerbi describes Lallana as a coach on the pitch, who can teach the game to those around him, such as Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma, who scored one and got Nelson Semedo sent off.

‘Lallana will become a very good coach,’ said De Zerbi. ‘But I hope not yet!’

The former Liverpool player’s confident finish opened the scoring before he assisted Mitoma for his first goal in English football. Mitoma, 25, sums up Brighton’s slick recruitment model. 

Youth product Lewis Dunk embodies the club’s warrior spirit with his fearless defending

He spent last year on loan at Union Saint-Gilloise, the Belgium club co-owned by Brighton supremo Tony Bloom. 

Underlining it all is Lewis Dunk, who has been at the club since the age of 12. It is ludicrous that Dunk has just one England cap. He is a warrior-like defender who puts his body on the line, but has also improved tenfold with his feet.

So given all the positivity, how about European football, Roberto? ‘For sure we will try,’ the charismatic Italian said.

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