Leroy Rosenior has plenty of experience of English football as a player, manager and now a pundit. Here, he discusses his former club Bristol City’s Championship prospects and the chances of promotion for Brighton, where his son Liam plays.
After a dreadful run, how encouraged were you to see Bristol City get a point at Newcastle on Saturday?
I was really encouraged. It all came to a head during the Fulham game last week and the Bristol City fans I know were starting to lose patience, so it was an absolutely massive result for Lee Johnson.
It was a welcome performance and result. It was a shame they were 2-0 up and lost that advantage, but a lot of teams have done that this season against Newcastle. City have been really competitive this season and the wrong end of a few tight results, so I hope that point at Newcastle marks the turning point for them. They just need to try and back it up tonight with a result at Villa Park.
The Robins face Aston Villa tonight – another side struggling down the wrong end of the Championship. How do you see the game unfolding?
I think City can go there and get a result. I watched the game against Derby and whilst Villa got a result, they didn’t look like any great shakes at the moment.
I think Villa will be more worried about Bristol City than Bristol City should be about Aston Villa. They should be full of confidence after Saturday and they enjoy the games against the big teams in the division. The Villa fans I have spoken to weren’t convinced by the performance against Derby, even if they were delighted with the win. It is a big game for both sides but I think City can get something from it.
If they are to have success, they’ll have to keep out their ex-striker Jonathan Kodjia (above). What do you make of players moving for sums of £15million in the second tier?
It is unbelievable isn’t it? That’s the going rate for a Championship striker nowadays and, no disrespect, that’s what they are – Championship strikers. He had a good season at Bristol City and that’s the going rate for a British-based striker with experience of the Championship and it is that experience of the Championship that costs.
I think a lot of players find the Championship harder than the Premier League. It is ruthless, you have to be mentally prepared for it, so to get a striker experienced in the Championship, who can score goals at that level, will cost you.
I think it is good for the so-called smaller clubs. If they can hold out for transfer fees of that size, they are getting a good return and they can re-invest. That said, I never thought I’d see the day where ‘lower division clubs’ were spending £15m on a striker.
Your son Liam has been at Brighton since 2015 – how has he been finding it?
He thinks the club is set up brilliantly, he’s really enjoying his time down there. He’s had a few injuries, but he’s on his way back and he played last night as part of his comeback.
He loves the club and every time I speak to him I see the enthusiasm in his eyes for the club, the manager, the coaching staff and the players. What comes out regularly his how close the players are, they have a really close bond and he is desperate to get back in and play a part before the end of the season.
His family are also really happy down there. I think they feel they will settle in the area long term. It’s easy to forget footballers have families and the importance of them settling. They feel like Brighton is a place they can put down roots, which makes Liam happier.
Liam also likes the way Chris Hughton works and the type of football Brighton play. He’s just desperate to get back in the side this season. He’s enjoying everything that comes with being part of the club.
Does he often tap into his dad’s experience? Do you often get a weekly phone call asking for advice?
I speak to him regularly. I wouldn’t say weekly but maybe once, twice, three times a month and that’s because I realise he needs to focus. Liam is 31 now, so he knows what he is talking about, but when he’s got injuries I’ll be on the end of the phone a bit more checking he’s OK and how he is progressing and to give him the right type of encouragement.
I do give him little bits of advice, how much notice he takes I don’t know, but he knows the game and is an intelligent lad. I do think it is important that I keep an eye on Brighton so I know how he’s doing when he calls but I don’t really force advice upon him. He’s an intelligent lad. He knows the game and the game is about opinions and he has a very good and strong opinion on the game.
The Seagulls had a big win at the weekend – tonight is a massive game at home to Newcastle. Is this the best chance yet Brighton have had to make it to the Premier League?
Brighton have got a very good chance. They have put themselves in a very good position but they have to see it through. They have experience at the top of the Championship so hopefully that will count in their favour.
They did a really good job in the summer, holding tight and not allowing their better players to leave the club. One or two at the end of last season would have been disappointed not to have made it to the Premier League, but the club did well to convince them to stay and believe they could fulfil that ambition with Brighton.
I was expecting a tighter affair on Saturday, watching the game against Reading, but Brighton really did play very well. Knockaert was brilliant again, they defended well and Lewis Dunk was excellent again.
All the facets of the team work really well – they couldn’t be going into this game against Newcastle in better form or in a better place. But Newcastle are obviously a very dangerous side, they have lots of players like Mitrovic. This is a big opportunity for Brighton but it is about them keeping focused, keeping their heads. They just need to focus on what is the next step ahead and they make that step correctly.
It is in their hands and they’ll be delighted where they are at this stage of the season and I really hope that they take this opportunity.