When Brighton won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League at the end of last season, it was no doubt a joy to much of the city.
The Seagulls had been slowly building a club that had the infrastructure and team to establish themselves as a top-tier outfit.
Under Chris Hughton, the south coast team had flirted with promotion, so going up last season was not majorly surprising. The former Newcastle boss has done an extremely good job at the Seagulls.
Some talented players
Promotion was no fluke. Brighton finished second in the Championship table and had the joint-best defensive record, equalling champions Newcastle’s 40 goals conceded. Hughton had the Seagulls well organised and they play as a team.
There were some top performers in the Seagulls team, though, such as winger Anthony Knockaert. The 25-year-old French winger was outstanding in the Championship last season, as the former Leicester star scored 15 goals and produced eight assists.
The winger will be determined to make more of an impact in the Premier League this time around. Knockaert made just nine top-flight appearances at Leicester, before moving to Brighton.
He will be confident of seeing far more pitch time in his top-flight second coming. Having matured at Brighton, he could be a key player for the Seagulls next season.
The centre-back pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy will also be looking to prove themselves in the top-flight. Dunk is a similar age to Knockaert and gained the interest of many Premier League clubs. However, he stayed on the south coast and should be an influential figure for Hughton’s team.
Duffy started his professional career at Everton. Despite some promising displays, he ended up at Brighton via Blackburn. The Republic of Ireland centre-back made just five Premier League appearances for Everton, so will be hoping to prove the Toffees wrong for letting him go.
Owners backing vital
The club’s owner Tony Bloom has been a key figure in the club’s rise to the top-flight. The businessman has invested a lot of his own money in the club and is understandably a popular figure for Albion fans.
His backing will be vital to the Seagulls this summer. He has already stated that the club will not spend beyond their means, which is understandable for a newly promoted club.
However, the Seagulls have already brought in German playmaker Pascal Gross on a free from German club Ingolstadt. Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan has aslo arrived from Valencia for a reported club-record fee.
Both of those deals look to be shrewd from the Seagulls. Gross was one of the bright lights for Ingolstadt in the Bundesliga last season, despite the minnow’s relegation from the German top-flight.
The Australian is a highly rated goalkeeper. Liverpool and Everton had both been reported admirers of the 25-year-old in the past. Ryan may well prove to be a very good signing for the Seagulls, especially with last season’s first-choice David Stockdale leaving for Birmingham City as a free agent.
Priority is survival next season
Brighton’s first priority next season is obviously staying in the Premier League. The Seagulls are currently odds of 6/5, which makes them the third favourites for relegation next season.
However, the team from the south coast have a lot going for them heading into the new season. The first thing is their boss Hughton, who is a good steady boss and often underrated. The team will no doubt be well set-up and organised next season.
One of the other positives is the owner and his relationship with Hughton. I do not think Mr Bloom will have an itchy trigger finger if the campaign starts badly. The final and last thing is that Brighton have some talented players, who really have a point to prove in the top-flight.
For me, Brighton have a very good chance of surviving the drop next season and then going on to build from there.
Will Brighton survive the drop next season?
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