Johnny Cantor: The grass isn’t always greener but Bridcutt is flourishing as Leeds captain

Liam Bridcutt in action for Brighton. Picture by Barry Zee
Liam Bridcutt in action for Brighton. Picture by Barry Zee

I’ve written in this column previously about players and the phrase ‘never go back’. Of course to go back, you have to leave.

We could talk more about Andrew Crofts, Bobby Zamora or Glenn Murray but what of those individuals who left for better things only for the reality not to live up to their hopes.

That certainly could be said for one former Seagull who the Albion will face this weekend. Midfielder Liam Bridcutt came to Withdean from Stockport. Small, bustling and compact, he went about his business.

He made over 150 appearances scoring just two goals (mind you, one of them was a strike that will never be forgotten!). It took time for many to appreciate how he completed the simple things, breaking up play and passing it on to a team-mate with minimum fuss but he was a vital part of Albion’s success under Gus Poyet.

It was Poyet who then lured him away with a lucrative £2.5m move to Sunderland. He certainly didn’t fulfil his potential with the Black Cats. I know many supporters may disagree but I’m glad the 27 year old, yes, only 27, is starting to regain his form at this weekend’s opponents Leeds United.

He was handed the captain’s armband and is flourishing in the skipper’s role but I always found him amenable and feel he played an important role in the Seagulls’ resurgence.

This weekend is vital for both sides. Three points either way will be huge for the Seagulls in the push for the top two and also for Leeds who can all but claim a play-off place with a win.

Bridcutt, though, probably won’t be the focus of attention on Saturday. Another former Seagull, Chris Wood, has amassed 25 goals in all competitions this season for Leeds and is certainly a danger. His record at the Albion also holds up well, with over a goal every three league starts in his time at the club back in 2010-2011.

The Kiwi has spearheaded the team’s progress under the impressive Garry Monk and a tilt at promotion via the play-offs seems certain.

Their only downfall could be the team’s reliance on his goals. They are robust and difficult to beat, that’s for sure. Pontus Jansson has excelled in the centre of defence and with Bridcutt and Wood provides a strong spine and you need backbone in the Championship.

It’s an exciting prospect at Elland Road this weekend. Whoever comes out on top will be celebrating but I doubt very much Bridcutt will be discussed much in the column inches that follow the game.

The Seagulls should not ignore his influence but any of us who watched him in blue and white will remember his key role in years gone by.

He may get his ‘dream’ of playing back in the Premier League with Leeds, after the struggles at Sunderland. He could well be doing it against his former team-mate Glenn Murray next season. I think they both deserve another chance in the top-flight and would relish the chance to ‘go back’.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com

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