Alan Mullery – Brighton’s best manager?


On the Football League 125 website, it says:

As part of the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of The Football League, this week we’re giving you the chance to vote for your club’s greatest ever manager.

As far as Brighton & Hove Albion bosses go, the choices are Billy Lane, Alan Mullery, Micky Adams, Mike Bailey and Gus Poyet. You can vote for who you think is the greatest here. However, while young fans will probably plump for Gus Poyet, one of the frontrunners in this vote, surely there is a much stronger case for Alan Mullery?

Poyet led the Seagulls to one glorious promotion and, of course, came very close to a second. But this is eclipsed by Mullery’s achievements. The former England international midfielder guided Brighton to promotion twice to usher the club into the top flight for the first time ever. Once there, he successfully kept Albion there for two seasons before leaving his job.

He resigned after a disagreement with chairman Mike Bamber in June 1981 over cuts to the coaching staff and the Mark Lawrenson transfer. Yet, in the middle of the glory years, Bamber was bold enough to praise Mullery as the ‘best manager in the country’ in an issue of Football Weekly News:

“People still try to tell me that this Brighton side is Taylor’s team – but they could not be more wrong,” says Bamber.

“He and Clough put Brighton on the football map when they came here. But it was Alan Mullery who has brought us success. He has had two fantastic years and there’s plenty more to come from the man I rate the best manager in the country.”

Mullery, a natural leader and born winner, won’t rest until he has steered Brighton to the top. And with the experience – and financial resources he has at his disposal – only a fool would bet against him doing it.

“This is a fantastic club to work for and I’m loving every minute of it here,” he says.

“I was out of work for three months after finishing my playing career with Fulham and had begun to give up hope of getting a job. Mike Bamber did me a favour by offering me the manager’s job here. I’m going to repay him by really helping this club to take off. And it’s a dead cert they will. They are going up in a big way – higher than the roof of the stand.”

Mullery certainly had a way with words and he kept his promise. His second stint at the Goldstone was creditable, but it is the meteoric rise of the club in his first spell that will live long in the memory.

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