Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira believes Roberto De Zerbi’s success at Brighton should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed the Italian’s career.
Albion travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday having picked up 10 points from their last five Premier League games, most recently beating Bournemouth via in-form Kaoru Mitoma’s last-gasp winner.
While the Seagulls have added 21 points since De Zerbi took over from Graham Potter in September, Vieira suggested Brighton’s surge to sixth in the table has as much to do with the club’s strong DNA as it does the man in the manager’s chair.
He said: “I think a new manager when he’s coming to a football club is always going to bring new ideas and try to change a couple of things, but the philosophy I think is still the same.
“This is a team who loves to have possession, tries to find those players between the lines and to create overloads to expose the opposition team.
“I followed him when he was in Italy and Sassuolo, and they always played some really good football. I think they choose the manager regarding the way they want to play the game.
“I think the manager fits into the football club with the philosophy they want to play the game, and when you’re looking at players they can bring in, how well they can fit in the team, it means they have a clear idea of how they want to run the football cub.”
Whatever one chooses to call Saturday’s meeting – Vieira dubbed it a ‘derby’, but some supporters on both sides would argue it is simply a heated rivalry – the Eagles boss acknowledged a clash with Brighton always feels a little bit different, though admitted he did not fully appreciate the history between the two sides until he was appointed.
“No, I didn’t know a lot about the game,” he said.
“It is the passion from both fans, it’s the rivalry between those two football clubs since years, years.
“And of course we all know, the staff, the players, about how important this game is, but the main focus is concentrating on the way we want to play the game with conviction and the belief in ourselves.”