Brighton only just survived relegation from the Premier League last term, can a new manager and new strike force do enough to lift them further up the table this time around?
Manager: Graham Potter
Last Season: 17th
Stadium: AMEX Stadium
Home: 22nd February
Away: 21st December
In: Taylor Richards, Neal Maupay, Matthew Clarke, Leandro Trossard, Todd Miller, Andrew Crofts, Lewis Freestone, Adam Webster.
Out: Ben Barclay, Bruno, Will Collar, Ben Hall, Ales Mateju, Richie Towell, Markus Suttner, Jordan Araujo, George Bentley, Julien Carre, Billy Collings, Owen Moore, Joe Tomlinson, Matthew Weaire, Piotr Zalewski, Alexis Mac Allister (loan), Ben White (loan), Anthony Knockhaert (loan), Jayson Molumby (loan), Christian Walton (loan), Jan Mlakar (loan), Robert Sancez (loan), Viktor Gyokeres (loan), Percy Tau, Matthew Clarke (loan), Leo Ostigard (loan), Carl Rushworth (loan), Roco Rees (loan).
Given the condemnation that Brighton received from across the football spectrum for sacking Chris Hughton at the end of last season, there are probably a lot of fans out there who not only expect the Albion to go down this year, but are hoping that we do.
But for most of us who watched Brighton week in, week out since Christmas the sad fact was that Hughton had to go. Two league wins in 2019, defeats at the Amex to Burnley, Southampton, Cardiff and a heaviest home loss in 46 years when Bournemouth won 5-0 in Sussex and a club record run of over 14 hours without a goal. It was grim.
What made it all the more mystifying was that before Christmas, we were 12 points clear of the drop zone and some fans were dreaming of trips to Albania on a Thursday night.
Hughton then took the decision to change from the 4-4-1-1 formation which had delivered such success and move to a 4-3-3. This was a complete disaster and virtually everyone who watched the Albion from January onwards could see the new shape was to blame, except for Hughton who doggedly stuck with it until the middle of April. By then, the damage was done and we’d gone from having designs on a top 10 finish to relying on Crystal Palace of all teams to keep us up.
With Hughton in charge this season, we’d have gone down. That’s certainly what Tony Bloom thought and seeing as he’s the man whose pumped in hundreds of millions of pounds over the past decade, it’s his opinion that matters the most.
Bloom’s taken a big gamble in appointing Graham Potter as Hughton’s replacement, but it isn’t hard to see why the former Swansea boss was the Albion’s number one target.
He’s known for playing positive, possession based football; being tactically flexible and ekeing improvements out of most of the players he works for. Having spent over £50m in the past 18 months on a lot of attacking players, Bloom is clearly hoping that Potter can get something out of the likes of Jurgen Locadia and Alireza Jahanbakhsh to justify their eye watering fees.
Bloom has also backed his new man heavily this summer. We’ve broken our transfer record three times to bring in Leandro Trossard from Genk, Adam Webster from Bristol City and Neal Maupay from Brentford.
Will it work? Nobody really knows. We could turn into Palace under Frank De Boer – the last Premier League side who probably tried as radical a change in the space of one summer – or Potter could turn out to be a tactical genius and managerial maverick who takes us into the top 10.
What Brighton have done this summer is a big risk, there’s no doubt about it. But when you chairman made his money through being a professional gambler, it suggests he normally gets these things right. Fingers crossed that’s the case.
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— Vital Blades (@vitalblades) July 29, 2019