sport news From Roberto De Zerbi to the new club chef whipping up a fake Oreo milkshake, ... trends now

sport news From Roberto De Zerbi to the new club chef whipping up a fake Oreo milkshake, ... trends now
sport news From Roberto De Zerbi to the new club chef whipping up a fake Oreo milkshake, ... trends now

sport news From Roberto De Zerbi to the new club chef whipping up a fake Oreo milkshake, ... trends now

Brighton have received a lot of praise for their progress and football philosophy, and there are many staff members who are working very hard behind the scenes.

Manager Roberto De Zerbi is at the forefront of proceedings, but the new club chef, the player liaison officer and the social media manager are all contributing. 

Mail Sport provides an insight into the various staff behind the scenes at Brighton.  

Alongside manager Roberto De Zerbi, many other staff make the club tick behind the scenes

Alongside manager Roberto De Zerbi, many other staff make the club tick behind the scenes

THE CHEF - WILL CARVALHOWill Carvalho  arrived from Portugal as a flair summer signing — for the club kitchen. The 40-year-old has been Brighton’s executive performance chef for a month. He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, for leading rugby union clubs and national teams, and for the Brazilian women’s football team. He speaks fluent Portuguese, French, Spanish and English.

Quality and variety are key to feeding the players. ‘I try to do different things and not repeat dishes often,’ he says. ‘ The food must be tasty and different each day, surprising even. That is why there’s a different flavour porridge every morning.’

He sees his task as a simple equation: needing to fulfil the dietary requirements of elite sportsmen, while making food they love.

Chef Will Carvalho arrived at Brighton this summer and his enthusiasm is infectious

Chef Will Carvalho arrived at Brighton this summer and his enthusiasm is infectious

Kitchen staff at Brighton's training ground feed around 270 people per day, and Carvalho takes a hands-on role in hotels on away trips

Kitchen staff at Brighton's training ground feed around 270 people per day, and Carvalho takes a hands-on role in hotels on away trips

Carvalho’s tasks include going to hotels on away trips and taking a hands-on role in kitchens where he has already forwarded his menus. He is aiming to build a team of 10 chefs to feed 270 people a day at the training ground alone, between 8am and around 2pm. Free high-quality food is available to all staff for breakfast and lunch, and increasingly the players are taking bags of food home for dinner.

Carvalho’s enthusiasm is infectious. When he talks about plans for the next Premier League home game and post-match fare in the dressing room, he’s envisioning sushi platters, a burrito station and a grill station. 

He is also going to introduce a fake Oreos milkshake to the players’ canteen menu. ‘It hasn’t got Oreos in it, but it tastes like it has,’ Carvalho (right) says.

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR - DAVID WEIR

The long list that ended in Verbruggen’s recruitment went across the desk of Brighton’s technical director, David Weir, a stalwart centre-half for years with Everton and Rangers who played for Scotland until he was 41. His portfolio of responsibilities including anything at the training ground that helps players to improve, technically, club analysts, sports science and medicine, the academy, the loan arrangements that help young players develop, and, famously, recruitment.

He works with the heads of all those departments, and liaises with the board.

‘I can’t tell a doctor how to treat a patient, or tell an analyst how to clip a game, or tell Roberto how to pick the team,’ he says. But he can put in place systems to assist.

It’s no surprise that Weir won’t divulge information about the ‘secret sauce’ data that comes from the StarLizard company that informs much of Bloom’s professional gambling. It’s massively complex, proprietary, exclusive to Brighton among football clubs, and evidently best-in-class, tracking more players in more ways than any comparable system.

‘No doubt data is very important but we [also] have eyes on players. It’s not just a numbers game,’ Weir insists.

Brighton technical director David Weir says that the club's approach isn't just based on data

Brighton technical director David Weir says that the club's approach isn't just based on data

The club have a detailed progression plan in place and initially set out to become a top-10 club

The club have a detailed progression plan in place and initially set out to become a top-10 club

‘Recruitment is a combination of lots of things [including data, traditional scouting, background checks] … We’ve been really lauded for recruitment but it’s also about [our reputation for] how players are treated and looked after when they’re here … We give young players opportunities.’

But back to the data. Is is basically a clever algorithm? ‘It’s an objective measure that challenges your subjective opinion … fundamentally [the output] is a determinant of quality.’

Sometimes even Weir is surprised by who Brighton manage to sign, the loan for Ansu Fati a recent case in point. ‘Signing him sent a strong message,’ he says. ‘The fact Barcelona and the agent let him come to us says a lot. We were even a bit surprised we got it done to be honest.’

PLAYER LIAISON OFFICER - STEVE GIBBON

I’ve been waiting to speak to Steve Gibbon for most of the week. He’s been too busy to talk because his role as ‘Player Care Lead’ can be all-consuming at times. The same position is commonly known as ‘Player Liaison Officer’, or in layman’s terms, the person who sorts out all kinds of everyday issues for players and their families, especially foreigners.

In such an important week for the club, Gibbon has spent countless hours trying to satisfy ticket requests for the players and their families and entourages. But an hour before kick-off tonight I get a text that Steve is available for a chat. He has a colourful CV, managing greyhound stadiums, betting shops, pubs. I suggest that might have helped in his years in his current job to find ways out of various scrapes for Brighton players. But Gibbon insists he rather deals with multiple mundane, and sometimes sad, and often banal problems: how to buy or hire a car; how to pay a bill.

Housing and schooling are key issues where he provides guidance to players. I’m told by one staff member that the traditional mantra of many player liaison officers is ‘Happy wife, happy life’.

‘That is seriously key,’ says Gibbon. ‘Often with new players coming in you tend to concentrate more on the wife than the player.’

Ansu Fati is one of the players to benefit from the work as player liaison officer Steve Gibbon, as he is looking for a chef for the youngster to help him settle in

Ansu Fati is one of the players to benefit from the work as player liaison officer Steve Gibbon, as he is

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