A respected Spanish journalist has tipped new Brighton & Hove Albion manager Oscar Garcia to take the Seagulls back to the big time – and end up coaching Barcelona.
Noelia Déniz Cabrera (@noeliadeniz on Twitter) was the first writer to link Oscar to the Albion hot seat and, from her base in Spain, is still in regular contact with the man charged with keeping up the progress started under Gus Poyet.
And, speaking to NotWorthThat, she told Seagulls supporters to get ready for an exciting season – convinced Oscar can succeed where his predecessor Poyet failed and lead Brighton to the Premier League.
Déniz Cabrera delivered a glowing reference to Oscar, who she got to know during her time covering Barcelona.
Asked about his chances at Brighton, she said, “I can’t see him failing.
“He is very hard-working, very serious when it comes down to work and to achieve his goals. He creates the perfect environment in any team he is in, he makes people feel valued and takes out the best of everyone, this is something that many people who has worked with him have told me.
“He is very honest and SO humble, sometimes I am the one to tell him about some news he has been on, it amazes me.
“He is going to do a great job, I have no doubt.”
She insists Brighton will develop a Barcelona style approach to matches – with the new man likely to employ a more attack-minded 433 to Poyet’s 433/541 formation.
“He likes 433 (with slight changes),” said Déniz Cabrera. “Very similar to Barça as he really likes its style.
“Sometimes he prefers to have a “9”.
“He knows to perfection the FC Barcelona’s philosophy, not only because he grew up learning and practicing it but because his first ‘proper’ managerial job was with Juvenile A, the first professional team in the scale of FC Barcelona’s football academy, followed by Barça B (2nd Division, equivalent to Championship in England) and the first team.
“He is not the most known manager, but people who saw his work with Juvenile (where he won Liga, Copa del Rey and Copa de Campeones in one season) really wanted him to carry on in the club and coach Barça B.
“Some people will tell you he would be the perfect manager for the main team also. And I agree. I think that day will come.”
And she should know. As well as collaborating on a radio show on which she talked about Barca and Barca B, Déniz Cabrera kept a close journalist eye on the club’s youth academy – where Oscar began to make his name. That took her to Barca TV where she now comments on matches for the club’s official television channel.
There are plans afoot for her own radio show – a two-hour daily look at football. This, it would be fair to say, is a journalist who knows her stuff. And in particular, knows Barcelona and Oscar.
In fact, she became the source of choice for a host of British media looking for an update on the Oscar/Poyet saga. “I speak to Oscar very often,” she revealed. “I have known him for many, many years and I respect him lots, he is a great guy.
“A big football paper kept asking me and I said whether the rumours (about him going to Brighton) were real or not. The thing is, I’ll never fail Oscar´s trust, if there was something he didn’t want to make public, I’d always respect that. His trust is above everything.”
But surely even someone who knows Oscar well must have been surprised to see him rock up in Sussex – not to mention the no doubt baffled Spanish press.
“To be honest, I thought he would be getting more offers from teams playing Premier League and La Liga,” she explained.
“You should be so proud to have him. This is a challenge and he knows it, he can do it, he took Maccabi to win the League and put them back in Champions League, and if you ask any player they will tell you great things about Oscar.
“People in Spain were surprised somehow to see he was taking on a Second Division team.”
Are Brighton perhaps better known in Spain than other clubs at this level though? The Vicente effect maybe? “I must say that generally, people do not know a great deal about Brighton, with or without Vicente, but I’ll make sure they know more because I will try to keep up to date with the team as soon as the new season begins.
“I was already keeping an eye on Maccabi when Oscar was there and talking on twitter about the matches and results.”
Contrary to popular belief on the south coast, most Spanish fans have been unaware of the swell of Spaniards arriving in Sussex, with Déniz Cabrera saying of the Albion’s international brigade only Bruno would be well-known in his homeland, no doubt as a result of his spell at Valencia.
That will surely change if Oscar can tempt a few of his former Barca charges to switch to southern England.
But, and here is the million dollar question Brighton fans need answering, how will Oscar cope in the English game. Yeovil away is a far cry from the talent-dripping Barcelona academy.
Déniz Cabrera has no concerns on that count.
“I think he can adapt,” she said. “This is a challenge and I trust him 100%.
“Brighton is one exciting project. To me, he is the perfect man to lead the club to the Premier League.”