Is the real Kazenga finally standing up?
ARE we finally seeing the real Kazenga LuaLua at Brighton? Or is it just another flash in the pan from one of the most frustrating players in the Championship? The 24-year-old winger has scored three goals in three games this season and is a big part of why the Seagulls are joint-top.
Now he needs to keep it going. Season after season he’s been hyped up. Every year he’s built up as the one player who can make the difference.
He’s always brought a lot of excitement coming on as a sub and scored some spectacular goals doing that. But when he’s started games, he’s largely flattered to deceive.
But from what I’ve heard, he’s gone away and worked hard on his fitness and strength this summer. He’s scoring goals when it matters. He’s having an influence later in the game. His discipline is a lot better.
He’s finally becoming the player I always knew he could become and the one that Brighton’s fans have been waiting for.
If he can maintain his form and get ten or 15 goals from wide areas, a good start could become a good season for Brighton.
Clearly, LuaLua has learned from past mistakes. But what I’ve liked about Brighton this season is that everybody seems to have learned from what was a wretched campaign last year.
The board have learned. No longer are they picking three players and saying to the manager ‘Right, these are your options, pick A, B or C’. From what I’ve heard, the majority of signings are Chris Hughton’s choice.
And Chris has learned too. He inherited a mess last season and clearly realised the best he could do was stop the team conceding. That made things pretty dull at the other end, but it gave him something to build on this summer.
And the biggest thing he’s realised is that playing 4-4-2 suits his players. He’s got Tomer Hemed up front doing the basics – being strong, winning flick-ons – and a nippy poacher in Sam Baldock alongside. It’s old-fashioned, but it works. In the Championship, that’s all that matters.
This division’s never, ever been about free-flowing football. It’s about being resolute and hardworking with flashes of quality.
You just need to look at the success Mick McCarthy has brought to Ipswich through hard work.To me, this Brighton team is very, very similar to Ipswich last season. One to 11, they’re OK, but there are no world-beaters. If you look at Derby, Middlesbrough or QPR, would any Brighton players get in their teams? Lewis Dunk perhaps. Maybe Beram Kayal.
So if you haven’t got the individuals – a Johnny Russell or a Tom Ince – you need to be well-drilled and hard to beat. That is Chris Hughton all over.
At Norwich, he took stick for that. For Brighton, it’s perfect. If they can stay clear of injuries – and if LuaLua can provide that vital inspiration and spark they need – there’s no reason why it can’t last all season.
ALL STYLE: Kazenga Lualua has tons of ability, but has he added substance to his game this year?