De Zerbi says he ‘doesn’t like foxy people’ after claims Spurs ‘deserved’ to beat Brighton

News Desk
Roberto De Zerbi during his bust-up with Cristian Stellini

Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi expressed his dislike of listening to “foxy people” as he insisted he did nothing wrong during his bust-up with Tottenham interim boss Cristian Stellini.

The two Italian coaches were sent off in the second half of Albion’s ill-tempered 2-1 Premier League loss at Spurs last weekend after staff from both sides clashed on the touchline.

Both clubs were this week charged by the Football Association following the “mass confrontation” in a game where the Seagulls controversially had two goals disallowed and two strong penalty appeals waved away.

Brighton’s coaches and players remain irked by the perceived injustices, while De Zerbi is still annoyed by Stellini’s post-match assertion that Tottenham merited a win which could have a major impact on the battle for a European spot.

“I’m honoured to work in the UK and in the Premier League but I want to work respecting myself,” he said ahead of Saturday’s visit to Chelsea.

“What I had to say I said face to face and I’m used to talking face to face.

“I think I didn’t make a mistake and I am clear and I’m honest and I like speaking directly.”

He continued: “We are still frustrated for sure. We are looking forward to playing again tomorrow. We want to win the game because we deserved to win in Tottenham.

“And, you know, in the interview when I listened (heard) that Tottenham deserved to win, it’s not right, it’s not correct. It’s foxy people.

“When we won at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup (3-1 in November), I spoke we didn’t deserve the victory – clear. And I don’t love listening to foxy people.”

Brighton received an apology from Professional Game Match Officials Ltd due to the failure to award a spot-kick following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s foul on Kaoru Mitoma with 20 minutes to go at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while VAR official Michael Salisbury has been dropped from the upcoming round of fixtures.

De Zerbi, who stressed his respect for referees, has now been shown four yellow cards and two reds since arriving in Sussex in September.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk coach says passion is crucial to his ability as a football manager and is unwilling to curb his animated demeanour.

Asked if he had any regrets about his behaviour in north London, he replied: “No, because I didn’t say bad words and I respect always.

“You have your style of life, I have my style and when I have something to say I am used to speaking in a direct way.

“For sure I can improve in a lot of things and in a lot of parts of my work but I can’t and I don’t want to lose my DNA – my DNA is passion.

“I’m not better than the other coaches, I am a normal coach and the best part of myself is the passion, to transfer my passion.”

Brighton sit seventh following the contentious defeat at Spurs and will seek to reignite their push for continental qualification at Stamford Bridge.

De Zerbi’s first win in charge of the Seagulls was a 4-1 thrashing of Graham Potter’s Chelsea in October.

The 43-year-old is braced for a tricky test from a club now under the caretaker management of Frank Lampard.

“We have always a big confidence in ourselves but it will be a completely different game, it will be a difficult game for us, for them,” he said of the Blues, who are seven points below Albion, having played two games more.

“They have a great squad. I think they can play with three first XIs – I don’t know how many players they have. But I don’t know how the game will go.

“I respect him (Lampard), he was a great player and he’s a great manager.”

READ MORE: Gareth Bale ‘arriving at Man Utd’ just as Casemiro has an ‘offer’ to leave?