Brighton moved into second place in the Championship table on Friday night as the Seagulls hammered Fulham 5-0 at the Amex Stadium.
A promotion push for the Premier League looked like an outside bet at the beginning of the season, but a good run of form of late has put the Seagulls right in the promotion hunt.
Many have tried and failed to get Brighton promoted, but it seems that current incumbent Chris Hughton may just achieve it this season.
A genuinely decent guy
The football world seems to be full of nefarious characters and shady figures. However, Chris Hughton always comes across as a genuinely decent and honest guy. He was one of the few people that brought stability at Newcastle, a club that is now famed for its chaos.
The old adage about nice guys finishing last does not seem to apply to Hughton, who has maintained his dignity, despite being treated very poorly at some of his previous clubs.
Did a good job at every club
The 57-year-old came into management quite late after spending much of his time as a highly respected first team coach at Tottenham and then Newcastle. Since he has been a manager there are few clubs fans who would say he has done a bad job for their team.
Hughton goes about his business without being flashy or over-the-top, but he gets the job done and he is highly-effective as a boss. He is a no frills boss, but produces teams in his image and they are usually pretty solid.
Hughton oversaw Newcastle’s return to the Premier League, only to be sacked mid-way through the campaign by the north east club, because they wanted to hire somebody with more Premier League managerial experience.
At the time I wrote an editorial about how silly the sacking was and that he deserved better than what he got. A number of people connected with the Magpies were dismayed by the decision to fire Hughton. At the time the majority of fans were not too pleased with the decision either.
Hughton also guided Birmingham City to the play-offs against all odds, as the Blues had struggled to get back into the top-flight. Next job was at Norwich. Hughton kept the Canaries up in his first season, before being fired in April of his second season with the club in 17th in the table.
The sacking failed to have desired effect of improving the clubs fortunes, as the Canaries were relegated that season.
Pushing for promotion
Hughton has now been in charge at Brighton for nearly a year and a half. There is always a surprise package in the race for promotion to the Premier League and Brighton have been that surprise package this season courtesy of Hughton’s management.
The Seagulls struggled last season in the Championship and finished 20th in the table, just six points clear of the relegation zone. Hughton only joined Brighton on New Year’s Eve 2014, so he could not be handed all the blame for the team’s poor performance in that particular campaign.
He has brought his typical brand of calm to a club that has now become accustomed to changing bosses on a regular basis.
His work in the transfer market has proven highly successful as well, with the likes of Tomer Hemed, Beram Kayal and Connor Goldson all proving impressive this season following summer moves to the Seagulls.
The January signings of former-Leicester winger Anthony Knockaert and Czech star Jiri Skalak have also proven very shrewd. Hughton looks to have built a very strong team with the funds available, but that is what he has done for much of his career.
The Seagulls are now third favourites to win promotion at odds of 6/1 and in typical Hughton style he has refused to get carried away by his team’s stellar campaign in the Championship.
Chris Hughton often does not get the praise that he deserves, but I for one will not be betting against the Seagulls completing an extraordinary turnaround in winning promotion this season.
Will Brighton win promotion to the Premier League this season?