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Chris Hughton is keeping the FA Cup alive with Brighton

by 18/02/2018 19:12:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Brighton beat Coventry 3-1 on Saturday to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals
  • Chris Hughton's side will face Manchester United at Old Trafford in last-eight 
  • Brighton boss Hughton is delighted about his side's progression in the FA Cup 
  • Jurgen Locadia enjoyed a fine debut, scoring inside 15 minutes against Coventry

By Adam Crafton for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:30 EST, 18 February 2018 | Updated: 19:12 EST, 18 February 2018

He has achieved plenty in his time, Chris Hughton. As a player at Tottenham, he won a UEFA Cup final against Anderlecht in 1984. As a manager, he has taken Newcastle and Brighton from the Championship to the Premier League. 

Yet when asked for the zenith of his career, his response was instant: ‘The 1981 FA Cup final is probably still my highest point, the highlight of my career.’ 

A curious statistic is that Hughton is the only current Premier League manager to have lifted the FA Cup as a player. He was on the Wembley turf in 1981 as Ricky Villa bobbed and weaved his way past a flurry of Manchester City players and he was part of the fizzing celebrations that followed. Hughton also won the trophy for a second time the following year, when Spurs beat QPR. 

Brighton beat Coventry 3-1 on Saturday to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup
Brighton beat Coventry 3-1 on Saturday to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup

Brighton beat Coventry 3-1 on Saturday to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup

JURGEN LOCADIA FACTFILE 

What do we know about Brighton’s £14.1m signing Jurgen Locadia? 

The Dutch 24-year-old arrived at Brighton with big expectations. Chris Hughton smashed the club’s transfer record to sign the striker, who scored nine goals for PSV Eindhoven in the first half of the season. In one game against Utrecht, Locadia scored four goals in a 70-minute period. He also created six goals for his PSV team-mates this season before his January transfer. 

Champions League football and two dutch titles at PSV, how did Brighton sign him?

Money helps, of course, and Brighton’s pursuit was also aided by the fact Brighton midfielder Davy Propper is a former PSV team-mate of Locadia. His goal record is impressive, having scored 45 and assisted 34 in 127 PSV league games. Forty-five of those appearances, however, were off the bench. Free-spending Wolves considered a bid last summer but Brighton poached him in January, despite a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the picture until now. 

How did he fare against Coventry? 

Locadia appeared powerful, pacy and was punishing in the final third. His movement was sharp, pulling off the Coventry defence to fire in the opening goal. But manager Hughton will know the Dutchman needs to be more clinical in the Premier League. 

And he seems to be a bit lively off the pitch? 

Locadia has spoken openly about a difficult upbringing in which his parents separated when he was two years old. One of his many tattoos is in memory of his late grandmother, who kept him out of trouble. When asked by the local media last week where he would be without football, Locadia said: ‘I’d have probably been a criminal.’ In 2015, when Locadia was agitating to leave PSV, he told director Toon Gerbrands that he would pay for the elderly gentleman to have a tattoo done if he allowed the player to leave the club. Upon his transfer to Brighton, Gerbrands tweeted that he will not be taking up the offer with the hashtag #generationaldifference. 

Anything else we should know? 

When Locadia was injured last season, he developed his passion for music. On his own record label Nardo Music, he brought out singles Take Off and EPOK and was then signed up by Powerhouse Music, who brought out Can’t Let Go in August. Now Locadia must strike the right note on the pitch.

‘I know what it means to win it. I know how exciting that is,’ said Hughton, after seeing his side breeze by League Two Coventry. His team may have included nine changes but the attitude was spot on from the dug-out to the playing field. Brighton matched their industrious visitors for diligence and then sprinkled their extra class on top. 

Jurgen Locadia, the Dutchman signed for £14.1million from PSV Eindhoven last month, made a bubbling start. After recovering from injury, he scored inside 15 minutes and only the woodwork and errant finishing prevented a debut hat-trick.

Locadia set the ball rolling and then the Cup produced a warming moment for defender Connor Goldson, who scored his first goal since recovering from heart surgery to double the Brighton lead. Leo Ulloa added the third with a thumping header before Jonson Clarke-Harris pulled one back in a late Coventry rally. 

Towards the final whistle, Brighton supporters began to sing of a trip to Wembley. A couple of hours later, such optimism may have dipped following a sixth-round draw away at Manchester United. Still, it is a first FA Cup quarter-final for the club since 1986 and the fixture will conjure nostalgic memories of the 1983 final between the two — drawn 2-2 before Brighton lost the replay — and the famous ‘And Smith must score’ commentary by Peter Jones. 

Brighton boss Chris Hughton is delighted to see his side progress far in the FA Cup
Brighton boss Chris Hughton is delighted to see his side progress far in the FA Cup

Brighton boss Chris Hughton is delighted to see his side progress far in the FA Cup

‘Building up into this one,’ Hughton said, ‘most of the talk was about 1987 when I played and we lost against Coventry. When I am around Coventry people, it is something still massive in the history of their club and you always look forward to creating those moments. 

‘People remember [the Gordon Smith moment] and that is because of the magnitude. Irrespective of all the changes [to the FA Cup], it is still... it is best to speak to some foreign managers because when they come here, it is often what they know about, the magic of this Cup competition. We have been brought up on it. However much we think it is changing, which it is, once you get to the latter stages, it is as exciting as ever.’ 

Hughton’s outlook is encouraging. There is a perception that the Cup is on its backside and that is mostly due to the attitude of managers of middling to lower Premier League clubs. 

Jurgen Locadia enjoyed a fine debut, scoring in the 15th minute at the AMEX Stadium
Jurgen Locadia enjoyed a fine debut, scoring in the 15th minute at the AMEX Stadium

Jurgen Locadia enjoyed a fine debut, scoring in the 15th minute at the AMEX Stadium

David Moyes gave the impression West Ham were beaten before a ball was even kicked against League One Wigan Athletic in the fourth round. Wigan had earlier dismissed Bournemouth in the third round. At Swansea, Carlos Carvalhal appears to view the competition as a distraction he could do without, but his players keep bumbling along in it anyway, and require a replay for the third consecutive round against lower league opposition.

While others see the path to glory as an inconvenience, Hughton senses opportunity. Brighton’s route has not been easy. There was a derby victory over Crystal Palace in the third round, the 650-mile round trip to Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough in the fourth and then this awkward fixture against a Coventry side who brought 4,000 supporters and had already seen off Stoke City. 

Hughton, by contrast, knows what a Cup run can do. It invigorates supporters, with the stadium close to capacity for this one, and it has energised his dressing room, who are now five unbeaten in all competitions since winning at Boro. 

‘We will see where it takes us,’ Hughton smiled. ‘We are one game away from a semi-final — and that is exciting.’  

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