Brighton Manager Gus Poyet is urging supporters to give his predecessor Russell Slade a warm welcome when Slade brings his Leyton Orient team to the Withdean Stadium for Wednesday evening's Johnstone's Paint Trophy encounter.
Slade spent only eight months at the Brighton helm, losing his job last November, but he had saved the Seagulls from relegation at the end of the 2008/09 campaign - they were deep in the drop zone when he arrived in March but ended in 16th place to comfortably avoid the drop to npower League 2 level.
Poyet said: "Russell did a very good job here. Brighton were in a very complicated situation (when Slade arrived) and as a football person looking in from the outside, I thought they were down. I was convinced that Brighton had no chance to get to safety, but he did it.
"The players did it too, of course, but he did it - he changed things around, won five of the last seven games, so credit to him. But in football, one day you are at the top and the next you are losing games and you are out. But I hope that the fans remember Russell for the good times."
As well as going head to head with his rival League 1 Manager, Poyet will have former Brighton midfielder Dean Cox - released by the Uruguayan boss in the summer - looking to deal a knock-out blow to the Seagulls' Trophy chances.
Again, however, Poyet will extend a welcoming hand. "It will be terrific for Coxy to be back here," he said. "He's a local boy who wanted to stay here, but for different reasons he's not still here. I hope he doesn't want to make a point though, because he doesn't need to - we know the kind of player he is."
Victory in the Southern Section first round clash could set Poyet on the road to a Wembley Final three years after he was at the national stadium as Tottenham Hotspur's assistant manager when they beat Chelsea in the Carling Cup Final.
The former Real Zaragoza, Chelsea, Spurs and Uruguay striker left White Hart Lane along with Manager Juande Ramos in October 2008, but 13 months later he became Manager in his own right for the first time when he took over at Brighton.
Now in his first full season with the club, he is aiming to improve on last term's 17th place finish and is hopeful that the Johnstone's Paint Trophy can provide him and his team with some morale boosting results.
"We are going to take it (the Trophy), seriously," said Poyet. "I'm not thinking too far ahead, certainly not Wembley, but I'm looking forward to the game against Orient - I think it's going to be a great game."
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