Roberto De Zerbi admits he “made some mistakes” by not affording more first-team opportunities to Billy Gilmour and Deniz Undav before their starring roles in Brighton’s stunning 6-0 win over Wolves.
The peripheral pair were handed just their third Premier League starts for the Seagulls during Saturday’s club-record top-flight victory and seized their chances with standout performances.
Former Chelsea midfielder Gilmour was hailed as the best player on the pitch by his manager, while German forward Undav bagged a brace to claim his first league goals in English football.
De Zerbi’s decision to begin with key trio Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma on the bench raised some eyebrows but was quickly forgotten as his reshuffled starting XI delivered in devastating style.
“We are enduring a very tough period, we are playing so many games in a row and we are not used to playing so many games,” the Brighton boss said of his decision to rotate.
“I thought it was good and right to give Mac Allister, Mitoma and Caicedo one game to recover and for Billy Gilmour and Undav and the players who are playing less the possibility to show their quality.
“But the level of Mac Allister, Mitoma and Caicedo is high and to make competition is difficult for Gilmour.
“Gilmour, I think, was the best player on the pitch and I must admit possibly in the past I made some mistakes with him and with Undav because I didn’t give them many possibilities to play.
“But for me it’s difficult. To play without Mac Allister, Mitoma, Solly March, Moises Caicedo, it’s difficult.”
Brighton’s thumping success was the perfect response to a difficult week as Undav, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck claimed two goals apiece.
Albion suffered penalty shoot-out heartache at the hands of Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday and then had their European push dented by a 3-1 midweek loss at relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.
De Zerbi now has a positive selection headache going into Thursday’s rematch with Erik ten Hag’s United in the league but could be without Joel Veltman after he was substituted in visible distress.
The Italian coach conceded he should have withdrawn Dutch defender Veltman earlier, particularly as fellow right-back Tariq Lamptey is sidelined.
“I hope it will be a small problem,” De Zerbi said of Veltman, who has recently been troubled by a hamstring issue.
“It’s important for us, especially in this moment, because we are playing without Lamptey.
“With or without Joel changes a lot of things because only Pascal Gross can play as a right-back.”
Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui urged his players to quickly move on from the Amex Stadium humiliation.
The former Real Madrid manager also feels it is important to put the current situation into perspective given his club were bottom of the table when he took over following the World Cup.
Wplves host local rivals Aston Villa next weekend, with work still to do to eradicate relegation concerns.
“All together we have to be ready for the next fight because we are in the middle of the battle,” said the Spaniard.
“We lost one battle but not the war, so we have to continue to achieve our aim in the end of the season.
“We are aware that we have not done anything yet and we need to get more points.
“We have to recover our energy and our confidence because we have to remember four months ago we were in the bottom.
“It’s a good thing to remember where we were. Now at least we have the possibility to be out of the relegation and that is a very big aim for us.”