SUCCESS, as the saying goes, is simply a matter of luck – ask any failure.
We wuz robbed? Behind every outrageous fortune lies a great crime, and as manager Graham Potter contemplated Brighton and Hove Albion’s freakish litany of star-crossed defeats this season, the critical mystery remained unsolved.
Have the Seagulls deserved their cruel luck – or have they simply not been good enough to avoid being dragged into another relegation battle?
On current form, Potter would get seven years’ bad luck for breaking a mirror. And his sentence would be increased to 10 years on appeal.
But as he surveyed Albion’s trail of innovative setbacks, Potter admitted: “It drives you insane – but most of the planet’s population would still swap places with me.”
It is no exaggeration to say Brighton have turned the hard-luck story into an art form this season.
They managed to lose 2-1 at home to arch-rivals Crystal Palace despite an overwhelming 25-3 shot count in their favour, the most audacious heist since Hatton Garden.
They managed to lose 1-0 at West Brom after missing two penalties and Lewis Dunk’s ‘equaliser’ from a quickly-taken free-kick being scrubbed out in a VAR farce.
They managed to lose at home to Manchester United from a penalty in the 100th minute after referee Chris Kavanagh had blown the final whistle.
Even when they managed a first win at Liverpool in 37 years, the Seagulls merely joined an extended cast – currently six clubs in a row, including two of their bottom-six rivals – who left Anfield with the loot.
Every team has its issues with injuries, but to lose Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webster and Solly March with long-term problems hit the Seagulls right above the beak.
And number-crunchers who come with an ‘expected points’ index, based on chances created, reckons Albion should have collected 27 points from 14 home games at the Amex. They have won just once.
Potter, 45, is the bloke who’s never won more than a tenner on the lottery or come up trumps in the office Grand National sweepstake – but he refuses to bemoan his lot.
“We certainly can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves,” he said ahead of this weekend’s trundle along the south coast to Southampton.
“What we have to understand is there’s a fight, a struggle, and the margins in this league are so fine that clearly it would benefit anybody to be lucky.
“There’s a saying that goes ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’, but we can only focus on keeping our performance levels high, making sure the team looks together and keeps a sense of direction.
“It’s the beautiful game of football – it drives you insane, but that’s why we love it.
“You have to keep things in perspective. Of the world’s population (around eight billion people), how many people would want to change places with me? I think quite a large percentage of the planet would fancy sitting in this chair.
“I look at my family, my friends, the people I have in my life and working at a fantastic club surrounded by top people… I’m not going to feel sorry for myself.
“This is sport at the highest level, and you can’t have it both ways. How many years has this club been in this league? You can’t play at this level and pretend there aren’t moments when you’re going to suffer.
“As bad as it feels – and believe me, it does feel bad – you have to accept it and the only truce we have is to recover ourselves by the time the next matchday comes around so we are ready, we’re positive and we’re fighting.”
“You could tell the players that if the margins were on our side a bit more, we would be a bit higher in the league – but that’s not the reality, that’s not how it works,” he said.
“If you’re unlucky, or not quite at the level required, there’s a chance the result doesn’t go your way and you have to be humble enough to accept it.
“But at the same time, you can’t beat yourself up because we do a lot of things well, there’s a lot for us to be positive about and a lot for us to fight for – and we will fight to the end.”