How has it all gone so right for Brighton and Hove Albion?
It’s more than just a sea-side town…
This is only the third time in history that all three Championship promoted sides have survived the Premier League trap door.
Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town have stayed up sixteen years after Fulham, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers made history in 2001/02.
However it’s the team from the sea-side hotspot of Brighton that have caught the eye of the Coral News Team. Albion have had to be patient but, after finally seizing their opportunity, they’re beginning to thrive on the big stage.
Faith in Manager
Tony Bloom took over from Dick Knight as chairman in 2009 and has been pivotal to their upward spiral. His first mission was to facilitate their move from the athletics track at the Withdean Stadium to a new multi-million pound home in nearby Falmer.
The club’s final season at the Withdean just so happened to coincide with promotion to the Championship in 2010/11. Since then it’s been a tale of near misses for the Seagulls.
Finishing in the play-off positions in three out of the four seasons between 2012/13 and 2015/16 was a glimpse at what could have been.
But Bloom knew stability was key. When Chris Hughton’s men finished just three goals off automatic promotion he stood firm.
He and the club were rewarded by their loyalty and long-term planning when Hughton guided the side to promotion a year later.
Living within their means
They may have spent big in the last year. Davy Propper, Jose Izquierdo and Jürgen Locadia have come in for over a combined £40 million. However, prior to securing Premier League status, their record signing was a £2.5 million deal for Craig Mackail-Smith.
If you look at their back five that’s drawn so much praise this season, they’ve largely kept faith with the players that got them promoted. This defensive fidelity has now been underscored by the summer arrival of goalkeeper Matt Ryan. The Australian ‘keeper is the only one of their back-line signings to have cemented their place.
Hughton knew, despite a sound defence, he would need to build his side around a creative in midfield. Beram Kayal impressed in the Championship but his injury forced them into the market.
Propper was signed from PSV Eindhoven but the real gem turned out to be Pascal Gross. The German had created the most chances (95) in the Bundesliga. Fast forward nine months and the former Ingolstadt man has been named Albion’s player of the year.
There’s little time to bask in the glory or wallow in despair in football as everyone wants to know what’s next.
It may be the off-season but the deck chairs and a stick of rock on Brighton pier won’t feature too heavily on Hughton’s list of priorities.
The former Newcastle boss will be looking to find ways to improve on the clubs 15th placed finish.
He may now have a strike-force that is ready to drag Brighton through the hectic Christmas period.
However, Hughton will want to ensure centre-back Lewis Dunk remains at the Amex Stadium next season.
Putting together another strong defence coupled with a few midfield acquisitions and Brighton could just surprise people yet again.