After finishing in the play-offs last season, Brighton & Hove Albion have seen Gus Poyet leave and Oscar Garcia arrive. Ahead of Saturday’s meeting at the Amex Stadium, Scott McCarthy from We Are Brighton tells us what to expect from the home side…

Falmer Stadium

What are your expectations for 2013-14?

I think most fans would be happy with a top 10 finish. The squad probably isn’t as good as last season’s and, with all the drama and upheaval caused by Gus Poyet’s departure, we didn’t really have a manager in place until the second week of pre-season. The majority of our transfer business has been loan players, such as Keith Andrews and Craig Conway, brought in once the season was underway.

The Albion seem to be one of the few sides in the division taking the Financial Fair Play rules that are due to come in seriously which, given the fact we’ve lost £8m in the last two seasons despite moving to The Amex, means we don’t have an awful lot budget wise to work with in terms of permanent deals. The sides that came down in the summer are a lot stronger than those that came down the previous year which has brought the overall quality of the division up, and we haven’t kept up in that regard so the play-offs will probably be out of reach.

What’s the fans’ general opinion of Oscar Garcia?

Early days yet but he doesn’t seem to want to link himself with every available job or moan about his lack of support after every defeat which makes a pleasant change! He’s certainly made us more attacking than we were under Poyet when everything was about controlling the game and not letting the other team have the ball even if that meant sacrificing a chance to win. It’ll take time for him to bed in, learn the division and acquire the sort of players he wants and while that is going on we are obviously going to be inconsistent.

You aren’t touted as a future Barcelona manager for no reason so he must have something going for him in that regard. Not to mention the fact that his tight fitting grey suit trousers, black suit jacket, brown shoes and dodgy beard look mean he is already rivalling Paul ‘flat cap’ Tisdale and Keith ‘cravat’ Hill in the dugout fashion stakes.

Have there been many changes since last season?

As I’ve already said, the squad is probably weaker with no Wayne Bridge or Vicente who have both gone and Liam Bridcutt, Andrea Orlandi and Craig Mackail-Smith out with long-term injuries. We do like to attack more, especially at home, which I’m sure Forest fans will be pleased to hear after the two boring games you’ve been subjected to at The Amex since we came up from League One!

What can we expect tactically?

One central striker in Leonardo Ulloa who really is our main man and two wide men supporting him who will look to run at people and get balls into the box. The full-backs will push on and whoever is the one holding midfield player will dictate the play. That’s a role both Keith Andrews and young Rohan Ince have done particularly well in although it is fair to say that neither of them is Liam Bridcutt.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

Ulloa is the man who will get the goals which is what we have sorely missed really since Glenn Murray was allowed to walk out for Crystal Palace. He averaged over a goal every two games after signing in January and if we’d had him from the start of the season to turn all the games we dominated in the first half of the campaign into wins who knows where we’d be now. If Kazenga LuaLua plays he can cause all manner of problems on a good day and Matt Upson has been different class since arriving in January – it’s no coincidence with him in the side we have the best defensive record in the division.

What’s going to happen on Saturday?

Forest are actually one of my tips for promotion as your squad is in that small group along with Reading and Leicester and just behind QPR in terms of quality in this division. A score draw 2-2. Oh, and Dan Harding to be given a torrid time by one of our wingers; he seems to have a shocker every time he comes back to play against us.

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Image: By James Boyes from UK (CC-BY-SA-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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