Regretfully, this is not an article about visiting the 1980s nightspots in Brighton with the Scouse midfielder. In the mid-1990s, 90 Minutes magazine ran a page feature every week profiling the ins and outs of football clubs home and abroad. In the 12th October 1996, it was the turn of Brighton & Hove Albion. Rather than be all guns blazing for a night on the razzle, manager Jimmy Case was undoubtedly in sombre mood, while doing he best to stay positive:
“I don’t ask for much, just a pitch for my team to play on.” The words of Brighton manager Jimmy Case, on the job that is almost as unenviable as the Manchester City hot seat.
As it stands, Case and his players will be homeless by the end of the season, but the hero of Liverpool’s Championship and European Cup triumphs of the late ’70s and ’80s, remains cheerful.
“My interest is in the supporters – they’re the lifeblood of this club and they deserve to see a team that entertains them, he says. “But we need help from every quarter at the moment. The local paper seem intent on stirring things up when they should be behind us. The pressure they’re putting on all of us is not needed.
“The situation with the ground seems to be changing every day. One day we’re all systems go with a new stadium. The next, a consortium has pulled out and we’re back to square one. We’ve been kicked right in the teeth more than a few times in the last year.
This is certainly not the ideal time for 42-year-old Case to cut his managerial teeth. He finally hung up his well-worn boots last season, but still has the enthusiasm of a teenager: “I miss playing, but when my team performs well, it makes up for everything we have to put up with off the field.
“I like to see good movement and passion from my players. That was bred into me from my days at Liverpool, and we’ve been playing nicely this year. We also have a great spirit in the dressing room which keeps us all going.
“I spoke to Graeme Souness the other week, and he said that if I could manage at Brighton, I could do it anywhere. But I relish a challenge and will see it through to the end,” says Case. So there’s some hope for Brighton fans, whose loyalty has been thoroughly tested of late.
The Brighton job, with all the problems surrounding the sale of the Goldstone, and the club’s general financial plight, would have been a tough nut to crack even for an experienced manager. It clearly proved beyond Case’s abilities at the time to turn around the fortunes of the side. At first, he enjoyed the support of the fans but this ebbed away, with the defeat to Sudbury Town in the FA Cup 1st Round replay underlining how far the club fallen. However, it was the League position that was all-important. When Brighton stood nine points adrift at the bottom of the Football League in December 1996, Case was sacked.