Brighton made a bold decision to move on from Roberto De Zerbi, but have Kieran McKenna in their sights | football news

Roberto De Zerbi’s departure from Brighton was expected to follow a job offer from one of European football’s elites. Instead, the agreement to separate was mutual, a relationship that came to its natural end.

For much of the season, the Italian’s name was linked to Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Chelsea. But he now leaves Amex with Arne Slot designated at Anfield, while other doors also appear to close.

Perhaps it speaks to Brighton’s decline during the second half of the season, when they won just four Premier League games and suffered a heavy defeat to Roma as they were knocked out of the Europa League.

There is a feeling that uncertainty over De Zerbi’s future may have contributed to Brighton’s problems, while the manager did little to quell speculation, saying in March that he was postponing a decision until he could speak to Tony Bloom, the club’s owner. club.

Rather than face the summer not knowing whether De Zerbi was committed to Brighton, Bloom and Paul Barber, the chief executive, made a bold decision.

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Roberto De Zerbi thanked the fans and the players for the love they gave him during his time at the club and said that he will not leave Brighton having fielded another team.

“I think we worked very hard over the last few years to make the relationship the best it could be,” Barber said. “All good things come to an end.”

They could have decided to live with the uncertainty and wait for a bigger, richer club to pay the necessary compensation. De Zerbi’s excellent first 12 months at Amex, plus his work with the likes of Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk, ensure his reputation remains intact.

But Brighton understand that no manager is bigger than the club. Chris Hughton was sacked despite stabilizing the club in the Premier League, and Graham Potter was appointed to take the club to the next level.

Potter’s appointment worked, to the point that Chelsea came calling. Brighton didn’t stand in her way. Instead, a tidy profit was made and De Zerbi quickly took over.

The Brighton model is well established. They identify talent before their rivals, give them the platform to succeed, and then reap the benefits when richer teams come calling.

Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive and vice-chairman Paul Barber (left) and Brighton and Hove Albion owner and chairman Tony Bloom during the press conference at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, Brighton.  Photo date: Tuesday September 20, 2022.
Paul Barber (left) and Tony Bloom (right) will lead the search for De Zerbi’s successor

Moisés Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Potter fit that model. De Zerbi would no doubt have been another to do so, but instead Brighton cut the cord.

There are reasons beyond the team’s poor streak for the Seagulls to make such a decision. As Barber admitted, De Zerbi is not easy to work with, saying: “If that coffee machine wasn’t working properly, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the lawn.

“We’ve learned that what he says outwardly is a little misinterpreted. He speaks with his heart on his sleeve.”

De Zerbi hinted during his second season that Brighton’s buy low, sell high model may not have been to his liking.

Announcing his departure, he said: “We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work. and human values.”

Just days before De Zerbi’s departure, Barber said: “He understands what our limitations are. Behind the scenes, he knows the model very well.”

Brighton’s model works so effectively because they plan ahead. As Bloom said, announcing De Zerbi’s departure in the final week of the campaign gave Brighton “the first opportunity to plan for next season”.

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Sky Sports’ David Richardson and Paul Gilmour reflect on Roberto De Zerbi’s final game in charge of Brighton and an “unpredictable” season for Manchester United

Barber gave an interview to New York Times last year in which he explained that he has a shortlist of names ready to replace any coach or player who may leave.

That helps explain how De Zerbi was identified and named so quickly following Potter’s departure, and why they were willing to let the 44-year-old leave.

“I think the process we followed has gotten us here and that gives us confidence,” Barber said. “We are very clear about our way of working.

“We have to understand that for a club of our size, with revenue of our size, we have to compete in a different way.”

Without a doubt, Barber and his club have already identified the coach they want to replace De Zerbi. The CEO explained: “Part of our process is to make sure we always know who the next coach could be.

“It can’t be guaranteed because you don’t know the circumstances of the people at the time the current coach leaves. But we work very hard in our job as a coach, if you will.”

Kieran McKenna, the manager who took Ipswich to the Premier League after back-to-back promotions, is known to be a name of interest.

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Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna praises his players after winning promotion to the Premier League and says it will be a big challenge next season.

Some reports go further and say that Brighton have already started talks with the former Manchester United manager. His former team, in addition to Chelsea, would also be interested.

McKenna’s coaching style and success at Ipswich have attracted attention, although he has three years left on his contract with Ipswich.

Barber keeps his cards close to his chest and says, “A lot of names have been thrown at me, but I’m not going to get into coaching names or styles.

“We have a style of football that fans enjoy. Roberto built on Graham’s work, Graham built on Chris’s work. We would like to progress from where we are. We remain ambitious and we don’t feel there is a ceiling.”

McKenna’s appeal is obvious, although interest from Man Utd and Chelsea suggests the clubs who normally target Brighton’s stars are looking to eliminate the middle group.

Why pay a huge fee to Brighton for your manager when they can be hired two years early for a fraction of the fee?

But even if Brighton are unsuccessful in their pursuit of McKenna, Barber will simply move on to the next name on their short list. There is no need to panic.

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