Brighton and Hove Albion, known as the Seagulls, were expected to finish top of the Championship last season. They were cruelly pipped at the post by Newcastle (no Manchester United/City incident, but still cruel!), but still finished second, automatically qualifying for the Premier League. This is Brighton’s first time at the top table. Having risen quickly through the tiers, now might be their first taste of vertigo.
Manager: Chris Hughton
First Team: Ryan; Rosenior, Dunk, Hunemeier, Bruno; Murphy, Stephens, Sidwell, Knockaert; Baldock, Murray.
Strengths: Brighton’s strengths lie in their defence. They conceded the joint least number of goals (40; tied with Newcastle), yet still managed to prove lethal on the counterattack. Brighton have further shored up their defence with the acquisition of Matt Ryan from Valencia. Australia’s first choice goalkeeper is an assured presence between the sticks as well as an established international with top flight experience.
Weaknesses: Where defence is Brighton’s strength, attack might be considered a weakness. They were not in the top four for goals scored in the Championship, and we wonder whether they will struggle against more organised defences who are used to playing against Diego Costa, Harry Kane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Opportunities: Staying up. Brighton have struggled financially in recent seasons and no doubt the regulation is starting to pinch. They need at least two full seasons in the top flight to stay out of trouble. They weren’t shy of spending a bob or two to get out of the Championship – now they need to spend to stay out.
Threats: Going back down. Much as “second-season syndrome” gets a bad name, the first season in the Premier League will be the hardest. Especially so for Brighton, given it is their first season ever. They need to invest, and stick with Chris Hughton – he’s a talented manager, and well overdue his time in the top flight.
We wish Brighton well – it’s been a long haul for them, and would be sad to see them gone as soon as they arrived. They have a solid supporter base that would be a welcome addition to the Premier League. But without a lot of investment, we can’t see them staying for long.
In the meantime, let’s bask once again in the glorious moment when Brighton found out they were rising to the pinnacle of English football.