The Tweeting Seagull EPL Season Preview – We Shall Overcome?

In the four Gospels of the Christian Bible, Jesus is said to have fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. And competing in the Premier League with one of the lowest budgets and least experienced squads against some of the behemoths of world football, can at times feel like Albion are attempting to repeat a similar sized feat.

Yes, the club are in the best financial position that they’ve ever been in and the amount of transfer money spent in recent years is at unprecedented level, and is expected to increase in the coming days. But as this is the same for every team in the topflight, any benefits that each individual club receives from the Premier League’s wealth tend to average out.

And it no wonder we are fighting against the tide, with the club 118 years old, it enters only its 7th season in the topflight. The club doesn’t have a historic right to claim a place in the top flight, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is here on merit after a long fought for promotion and two hard-fought survivals from relegation.

BBC’s Sussex’s Johnny Cantor said in his recent Brighton independent column that at the start of the new season “the slate is clean”. Whilst Davy Propper stated “At the moment, it is a kind of new start.” But at the same time with a new start comes many new challenges, just as Potter admitted himself in an interview with Tom Barclay of the Sun: “Whenever you start a new job, it’s always a bit daunting, the unknown.” And for Potter there are a number of unknowns that the Albion faithful will be hoping he has resolved come 3pm on Saturday 10th August.

In the Guardian 18-19 season preview Jacob Steinburg said: “Brighton look equipped to survive if they adopt the right mindset. Consolidation is the aim, with Bournemouth’s cosy mid-table life something to aspire to. Anything more will be a happy bonus.” But whilst this year the paper predicted relegation for the Albion, in many ways much the same could be said of the team a year on. And yet the amount of flux at the club since the end of the season coupled with the less than encouraging end to last season raises question marks over how well the team will manage all of this change whilst competing at the highest level with such relatively lowly resources.

First and foremost, the Albion need to address a lack of goals. In their two Premier League season’s so far they have scored just 69 goals in 76 games, with only Huddersfield scoring less over those two seasons in the topflight.

But Potter’s intention is to change this and bring in an attacking style of play that can please the eye. On his appointment he said that “We try and play football in a positive way.” Something the four-goal haul against Birmingham and the and five-goal haul against Liefering in pre-season demonstrated.

Andy Naylor said at the end of last season, “Albion cannot keep leaning so heavily on 35-year-old Glenn Murray to keep them afloat, admirable though he continues to be. The greatest need is more firepower.” And the pressure being taken off Murray’s shoulders will be mostly reliant on new signing Neal Maupay.

Maupay is exactly what the doctor ordered for Albion, a striker who has pace and scores goals, and is a player who played the central striker in Potter’s suggested formation of a 343 at Brentford.

Last season he scored 28 goals in 47 games, a record incredibly similar to Glenn Murray’s 25 in 48 in Brighton promotion season of 2016/17 and a record that won him Brentford’s player of the season. The question will be can he translate that form into the topflight as well as Murray has over the last two seasons.

But, we’ve been here before with Albion signing a new forward player for and big fee. The club’s transfer activity seeing all bar Knockaert of last season’s mostly misfiring attackers, suggests they feel the answers are more in Potter evolving the style of play and developing the players he has, much like he did at Swansea last season. And its early days yet, but new signing Leonardo Trossard’s statement that he was convinced to join the club after being enticed by Potter’s vision of attacking football is encouraging.

In addition to Knockaert leaving, another player whose been key in attack in recent season’s, Pascal Gross, appears to be looking at having a more diminished role. In part because it’s tough to see how Potter fits him into his favoured 343 formation. This is a real concern in my eyes given he’s the Albion player who we’ve been able to rely on to deliver the goods in attacking area whilst most others misfire. A fact that piles more pressure onto Trossard.

As well as Trossard, there could be some other new attacking players making the step up from the u23 team. One in particular is last season’s Premier League 2 player of the season Aaron Connolly who was picked out by the Guardian as the Albion ‘youngster who can shine on tour’. Unfortunately, despite impressing for Ireland at the Toulon tournament over the summer, he hasn’t made much of an impact, featuring only in a young Albion team that won 1-0 at Crawley via a Taylor Richard’s penalty.

The signing of Taylor Richards is intriguing, and whilst I didn’t cover it in my recent transfer window blog as he’s initially been signed as an u23 player, the signs are he is expected by the club to make some impact on the first team this season, rather than just being limited to the odd cup team appearance and u23 football. Richards said on signing, “I feel I’m at that stage now that I need to push on, I didn’t think playing 23s was helping me – I feel like I was stuck.”

As was pointed out by Andy Naylor in a recent Argus article, “before the start of the current transfer window fifteen of the 16 permanent outfield signings made for the Premier League (including the loaned-out Percy Tau and Alexis Mac Allister) have been foreign.” In contrast the signings of Richards, Clarke and Webster make it only one of four made this summer, but such a small sample doesn’t necessarily suggest a change in tact regarding transfer activity.

A potentially bigger issue to the success in Potter’s evolution in the Albion’s style will be the team’s poor ball retention. Not only did the Albion have the fourth lowest average possession in the league last season but also the fifth lowest passing accuracy. Whilst this was partly due to the team’s defensive and direct style under Hughton, they’re not statistics that suggest changing to a back-to-front, possession-based approach is suited. This could be the real area where Potter and his assistants coaching skills are truly tested.

But the most telling deficiency could be off the field, through the lack of Leadership and experience within the squad. Something increasingly evident since the retirement of last season’s Captain Bruno, the departure of Knockaert and the resultant decreased amount of topflight experience and leaders that remain at the club.

The squad is one of the most inexperienced in the division as an analysis produced at the start of last season showed. Brighton’s squad started last season with cumulatively the fifth lowest in terms of Premier League experience, totalling only 563 Premier League appearances, over 1,000 less than next place Newcastle. More striking is that three of the four less experienced teams were subsequently relegated last season, with the only other side Wolves, unlike Brighton a team made up of players with plenty of topflight experience in Europe’s other topflight leagues.

As a result, the more experienced and long-serving players who remain at the club like Dunk, Duffy, Ryan, Stephens and Murray will now be required to step up and fill this void. It was clear morale nosedived significantly towards the end of last season during the club’s poor form, leadership will be important to ensure the feelings of frustration and negativity that remain at the club do not hang around for much longer.

There were certainly signs of a lack of leadership during the three successive defeats at home to Southampton, Bournemouth and Cardiff, a run that spelled the end for Hughton as manager. But in the subsequent run of four games the team showed evidence of all the previously missing qualities. And if it weren’t for a spectacular, if speculative late winner from Spurs the team would have gone unbeaten in that run. A run that showed that there is plenty for Potter to work with.

The second half of last season aside, the club’s home form has been its saving grace over the last two seasons. But its poor Away form has been a real concern, having picked up only 24 points on their travels over 38 games. However, if the draw away to Arsenal in the penultimate game of last season showed anything, it’s that given the attacking freedom, the team can take points away from home. Potter’s job will be to instil the level of confidence shown that day more consistently and a new attacking approach could allow for that. Even if the team’s home form isn’t as good as it was under Hughton, if they can average around a point a game away from home, they should still be in a position to improve on last season’s 17th place finish, assuming the home form doesn’t deteriorate as drastically as it did towards the end of last season.

As this is being written, the squad for the season is still to be finalised. In particular there is talk of a central midfielder being added, with u23 players like Alzate and Baluta fall back options if the targeted deals don’t get done in time. But overall our squad is not dissimilar to the one that saw Albion survive two seasons in a row, albeit narrowly last season.

The mathematical football predictions site Forebet has forecasted Brighton to finish 18th citing the need for more Premier League quality players in order to survive. But as we know, mathematical models often prove wrong and a good coach and an organised and well-drilled team can be far more valuable than talented individuals. A quality that appeared to be working well for the team for 18 months prior to last season’s slump.

As the Guardian current season preview stated, “Brighton’s lack of business suggests they trust Potter to nurture young blood and eke more out of a flatlining attack.” And unless there is a flurry of late transfer activity, it is likely that this is what Brighton’s season will come down to.

Some are more optimistic. Especially those at Fantraxhq.com, who unlike many stated that “Brighton shouldn’t have any relegation fears come the end of the season.” But anyone who was reassured after regularly reading the same before the beginning of last season will know that it is likely to be far from the reality of a season-long relegation dog-fight.

All this talk of new signings and new styles of play reminds me of last season. With the talk of record signings and plans from Hughton for a more combative, high-pressing style of play, neither of which materialised as planned. And after a mixed start to the season the team reverted to the deep-lying defensive style Hughton was best known for. Time will tell if in contrast Potter will succeed, but those expecting a revolution will likely have to settle for a slow evolution in style, such is the priority for pick up points to ensure survival over entertainment.

Potter alluded to this himself to the Telegraph in a recent interview. “We want our teams to be able to entertain the supporters… At the Amex they’ll be very important for us. So we’ll try and entertain. At the same time I know we’re in the results business. I’m not naive.” In the Premier League you don’t often get second chances, Brighton need to grasp theirs with both hands. Here’s hoping the team can overcome the issues of last season in order to do so.

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Guest blog from Albion tweeter SeagullsAcademy – Graham Potter and the Fountain of Youth

The long-time Albion fan behind the SeagullsAcademy twitter account has a particular interest in the Albion youth system and the young players developing through the academy. Here he provides a little background on the youngsters hoping to make an impression on the new Albion head coach Graham Potter.

As preparations start to ramp up at the Albion for the third successive season of Premier League football, things will be a little different this summer. The Seagulls enter the 2019-20 campaign with a new head coach at the helm; Graham Potter was appointed exactly one week after Chris Hughton was fired in the hours that followed the final match of the 2018-19 season. With Dan Ashworth having also been recently appointed (to the new position of Technical Director) it is clear that Chairman Tony Bloom is moving the club into previously uncharted waters.

Bloom has, of course, invested a huge sum of money into the infrastructure of the club over the last decade. He funded not just the building of the award-winning Amex Stadium but also the state-of-the-art Category One Academy, the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre. It is now apparent that the chairman expects to see a return on his investment (not necessarily in financial terms, but certainly in terms of producing young footballers who are capable of forcing their way into first team contention).

Chris Hughton’s four-and-a-half-year tenure as Albion manager will be fondly remembered by most Albion fans for many years to come. He inherited a side that was struggling in the Championship and took them to within a whisker of automatic promotion in his first full season. He went one step further twelve months later and then kept the club in the Premier League for two seasons, for good measure. However, there is one thing that was noticeably absent from Hughton’s spell in charge; there were very few first team opportunities for the youngsters developing through the academy, particularly in the league side. This was perhaps most evident when Hughton chose to ignore both Ben White and Ben Barclay and go with no specialist centre-back cover on the bench for three Premier League matches in December 2018.

Given the success of the U-23 side over the last two campaigns (promotion and then a third-place finish in Premier League 2 [Division One]) it would be difficult to argue that the players simply aren’t there. Who are the youngsters who might make the breakthrough now that Albion have a head coach who garnered a reputation at Swansea City last season of giving youth a chance?

Striker Viktor Gyokeres has a genuine opportunity to establish himself in Potter’s first team squad over the next few weeks, particularly as it has been reported that the Swedish youngster was on the Englishman’s radar when Potter was still at Ostersunds. Gyokeres is more a bought-in talent than a product of the academy, joining the club in January 2018 at the age of 19 and hitting the ground running with 11 goals in 15 appearances for the U-23s in 2017-18. He made his first team debut against Southampton in the Carabao Cup last August and also made four appearances in the FA Cup run. He made his debut for the full Sweden international side in January (against Finland as part of a training camp in Qatar, albeit in a very young side) and scored on his full debut against Iceland a few days later.

Fellow U-23 striker Aaron Connolly will also be hoping to impress the new boss during pre-season. The diminutive forward joined Albion to commence his scholarship in the summer of 2016 after developing through the youth system at Mervue United in Galway. He has so far scored at every level he has played at, including notching a brace against West Ham in his debut for the Albion U-23s in January 2017, scoring a hat-trick against MK Dons in the Checkatrade Trophy last November and scoring seven minutes into his debut for the Republic of Ireland U-21 side in the Toulon Tournament in France recently. The Premier League 2 Player of the Season had a brief, injury-affected loan spell at Luton Town towards the end of last season, making a couple of substitute appearances, and will probably be loaned out again to continue his development.

Connolly’s Irish colleague (and captain of the U-21 side during that recent Toulon Tournament) Jayson Molumby has been tantalisingly on the edges of the Albion first team squad in the last couple of seasons, but his chances of a breakthrough have been disrupted by a serious knee injury. He started both of Albion’s Carabao Cup matches in August and September 2017 and a month later was named on the bench by Chris Hughton for three Premier League matches. Unfortunately within weeks he suffered a dislocated knee cap which required surgery in January 2018. He broke down again as he returned to training at the start of 2018-19 and required a second surgery in August 2018. He finally returned to action for the U-23s in February this year (and made the bench for the first team for the Derby County FA Cup tie the very next day). He was named as one of the top four players in Toulon and a fit, healthy and rested Molumby will undoubtedly be pressing his claim at club level.

Max Sanders came through the scholarship system at Albion at the same time as Molumby. Sanders, who hails from Horsham, has been with the club since he was 8. He earned his scholarship a full 12 months before it commenced and was captaining the U-23 side during his first full season at that level in 2017-18. He is comfortable fulfilling a number of roles in midfield, capable of getting forward and contributing goals (he scored 6 in 34 appearances for the U-23s in 2017-18) but also able to sit and play the holding midfielder position where he formed a very effective partnership with Steven Alzate during that same season. He was rewarded for his fine club form when he was selected for the England U-19 squad at the UEFA 2018 U-19 European Championship Finals in Finland in July 2018. He started 3 of the 4 matches and was a half-time substitute in the other. He lost a couple of months to injury at the start of the 2018-19 campaign but earned a place in the matchday squad for the Premier League fixture at home to Liverpool in January 2019. He has yet to appear for the Albion first team (he was an unused substitute for the FA Cup 6th round fixture at Old Trafford in March 2018) but it is surely only a matter of time before opportunity comes knocking.

Turning to the defence, Albion have a player who made his first team debut nearly three years ago and who is now the most experienced outfield youngster on the books (with perhaps the highest upside). Ben White joined Albion during his U-16 schoolboy season after he was released by the Southampton academy. He made his debut for the U-18s in 2014. The cultured centre-back (who is also capable of playing at right-back) developed through the youth team and U-23s before making two starts for the first team in the League Cup in August 2016. The following season he spent the campaign on loan at League Two Newport County. He netted one goal in 51 first team appearances and won FOUR Player of the Season awards at the club’s end-of-season awards night; he also won the South West Argus Player of the Season poll. County’s manager Mike Flynn described him as an “outstanding talent” and the best loan signing the club had ever made. He also expected White to go on and earn an international cap.

White spent the first half of the 2018-19 season back with Albion. Ben Barclay (a season older than White) was named in the Premier League 25-man squad but Hughton ranked White ahead of him in the pecking order. White would have started against Southampton in the Carabao Cup in August 2018 but picked up an injury playing for the U-23s a few days beforehand, giving Barclay the opportunity. White was named on the bench by Hughton for the Premier League fixture at Burnley in December 2018 but for the next three matches, when Albion had only two fit-and-available first team centre-backs, the manager chose to leave him (and Barclay) out of the squad altogether. In early January 2019 White went out on loan again, this time to League One Peterborough where he scored one goal in 16 first team appearances.

White has already moved out on loan for the 2019-20 season, this time to Championship Leeds United. The Whites are known to have been impressed by his spell at Newport County and he now has the opportunity to make an impact at a higher level than he has previously played. With the ink barely dry on a new three-year deal, the future looks rosy for the Poole-born youngster.

Left-back George Cox finally got the opportunity to experience senior football in 2018-19. Sussex born and bred, he joined Albion at U-11 level and developed through the age ranks until his U-16 season when he wasn’t offered a scholarship by the Seagulls. He secured a trial with Aston Villa but they didn’t offer him anything as they thought he was too small. He returned to Albion but was only getting expenses in 2014-15 (unlike his scholarship colleagues who were now being paid). He made his first start of that season for the U-18s in September 2014 against Aston Villa in a 3-0 win and immediately after the match he learned he had finally earned his coveted scholarship.

In 2017-18 Cox was an ever-present for the U-23s as promotion to Premier League 2 Division One was achieved via the play-offs. He was all set to go out on loan at the start of the following season when routine testing discovered an irregular heartbeat that required surgery. He had to be awake for the procedure and felt the surgeon cut his groin and saw his blood on the surgeon’s fingers. However, Cox made a full recovery and after returning to the Albion U-23 side he joined League Two Northampton Town on loan in January 2019. Unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury in only his second game for the Cobblers and after almost three months out returned to action for the final few league matches of the season.

Cox had repeatedly demonstrated in his Albion U-23 appearances that he is capable of delivering a lethal ball into the opposition’s penalty area for his attacking colleagues. He will have an opportunity to leave an impression on new boss Potter during the next few weeks of pre-season, but will most likely move out on loan again to continue his development. There are a number of other young players who will also be seeking to put down a marker, not least Steven Alzate (who now has league experience with Leyton Orient and Swindon Town) and Haydon Roberts (who will still be a scholar in 2019-20 but has established himself in the Albion U-23 side and become a permanent member of the England U-17 side with 15 appearances in 2018-19). The youth system at the Albion has never boasted a higher calibre of young player, and the era of the first team manager not trusting the emerging talent might just be at an end.

 

 

Graham Potter – You don’t have to be a Wizard to do well here, but it helps

So after the somewhat abrupt sacking of Chris Hughton, the club have appointed Graham Potter as first team head coach. After spending eight years in Sweden managing Östersunds, Potter then spent the last season managing Swansea in the Championship, steering them to a mid-table finish. He now finds himself making another step up, this time hoping he can pick Brighton up after a disappointing end to last season.

Like all Brighton fans I’m very impressed with what I’ve read about Graham Potter and as a result I’m excited for the season ahead. In his press conference he said all the right things too, praising his predecessor whilst sharing the owner Tony Bloom’s ambition to achieve progress on the pitch. But as Brighton fans we’ve heard a lot of the right things being said in recent months and yet had little to cheer on the pitch. So I think it’s time for some realism: It will be another tough season ahead for the Albion.

Yes, it will be a tough season in a tough league amongst an environment of growing expectation and ambition for Brighton. As such Graham Potter has shown brave ambition to take this job and at the same time leave a fairly secure post at Swansea in the league below where he is much admired. This feels like a risky step forward for both parties.

It does say a lot about the progress of the club in recent years and the ambition of the board that the club achieving its 3rd and then 4th highest ever league finish in the last two seasons is deemed not good enough by so many. But whether with this move the club have bitten off more than it can chew is a question that won’t be answered until next May.

For Potter to ensure the team match the growing expectations with the relatively limited resources he has available, then he will have to be as good as he sounds, and he will need some luck. So I for one don’t envy him. No more so than because he inherits a team damaged from a poor showing in the second half of last season.

The current squad of players he is inheriting is one that, Glenn Murray and Pascal Gross aside, lacks evidence of consistent and reliable quality in attacking areas. And is in particular short of creativity and pace. This was desperately demonstrated by only scoring 14 goals in the league in the second half of the season and scoring the 4th lowest amount of goals in the league all season, with only the three relegated teams scoring less. A situation in part caused by the injuries to the 2017/18 club player of the season, Pascal Gross.

This issue was exacerbated by the attacking options added to the squad in the last two seasons either being injured or not performing to the required standard. A lot has been made of this, but frankly this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Albion’s problems.

The squad is also one of the most inexperienced in the division as an analysis produced at the start of the season showed. Brighton’s squad cumulative experience was the fifth lowest in the Premier League, totaling only 563 Premier League appearances, over 1,000 less than next place Newcastle. More striking is that three of the four less experienced teams were subsequently relegated with the only other side Wolves, who unlike Brighton are a team made up of players with plenty of top flight experience in Europe’s other top flight leagues.

That relative inexperience will be increased next season after the retirement of captain Bruno, who along with other leaders like the also now retired Liam Rosienior and Steven Sidwell were all a huge part of the “good group of lads” that Hughton moulded first into a promotion winning side, and then into a Premier League side which will soon enter its third straight season in the top flight.

One element in Hughton’s relationship with owner Tony Bloom that reportedly caused conflict was the transfer policy, as discussed by Barry Glendenning on the Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast. And with the recent appointment of Dan Ashworth as Technical Director along with Graham Potter being given the job title of First Team “Head Coach” rather than “Manager”, it suggests a change in approach in this regard. The club will be hoping this leads to more success in this area next season to overcome the issues highlighted in recent months.

But the prospect of drastically improving on what Potter has available to him by dipping into the transfer market is likely to be on the same constrained level relative to the competition as in previous seasons. As Paul Barber has signalled the fiscally responsible approach shown in previous years won’t be changed, and rightly so.

You may have recently seen criticism of the club’s transfer activity, some of which is valid, but it is done whilst ignoring the financial reality that the club is competing within. Brighton have one of the lowest wage bills in the league, in the 17/18 season, the most recent that we have figures for, Brighton had the 2nd lowest wage bill in the league with only Huddersfield’s being lower. And whilst the club’s gross transfer spend in 18/19 season was estimated as the 9th highest in the country, it was done so whilst bringing in a whopping 15 players, making the average transfer fee per player estimated around only £5/6m, which doesn’t buy much at this level.

And whilst the club’s net spend since promotion was the 6th highest in the Premier League this is also exaggerated by the fact that unlike much of the competition the club didn’t have Premier League assets to sell to offset against their spending. In fact the club’s total estimated transfer revenue was only £12m, half that of the league’s estimated average. On top of that the squad required strengthening to meet the standards required to make the step up to the top tier, which as Fulham have shown, even if you splash lots of cash it doesn’t assure success.

This all means the quality of players available to Potter is on average lower in comparison to its competitors, making his job all the more difficult. And this will likely make the prospect of Graham Potter transferring his expansive, possession based approach at the club all the more difficult.

Under Chris Hughton, Brighton’s success was built on stability and consistently, something that has gone missing for large parts of 2019. In response the club’s decision to appoint a manager who will aim to revamp the club’s approach comes with added risk of going against that mould. Especially considering Brighton don’t appear suited to it when you look at the stats. For example, they had the fourth lowest average possession, the fifth lowest passing accuracy and the second lowest shots taken per game in the league last season.

Some will reference the drastic change in style of play that Gus Poyet achieved at the club after his arrival in 2009 as a worthy comparison here. And whilst that’s true and that was also with a team that had narrowly avoided relegation the season before, that he went on to lead to win the league the following season, this was in a very different environment. He arrived when the club were underachieving, whilst the same cannot be said of now, especially considering last season was the club’s fourth highest ever league finish. Moreover when Poyet took charge the club were competing in a far less competitive league where playing such a style made them an outlier in contrast to the Premier League of today where possession is very much king.

Potter will be expected by many to hit the ground running from the start. As Hughton found to his cost the expectations at the club are probably higher than ever and if he doesn’t achieve a more comfortable survival from relegation whilst playing more attacking football, the nature of his arrive coming at the cost of Hughton in such dramatic fashion will mean he will likely be seen by some to have failed to a degree.

Potter’s problem in keeping fans on side may also be that unlike Hughton and many of his top flight contemporaries, he has neither the experience nor the credit in the bank with the fans at his club to fall back on if he comes up against a run of bad results. A replication of the performance from the team seen against Watford on the first day of last season in the first game of the coming one could spark a beginning of mounting pressure, that could considerably negatively affect such an inexperienced and relatively weak squad of players. A squad who have shown a lack of confidence across most of the second half of the last season.

Once the Euphoria of his appointment and the excitement and optimism that comes with a new season subsides, Potter will be required to show why Tony Bloom has placed his trust in him. If we’ve learnt anything from last season, it’s that whilst it’s great to be optimistic, it only gets you so far. We all remember how excited we were when the club signed both Locadia and Jahanbakhsh, neither of whom have met those early euphoric expectations.

Over the course of a season, a team’s quality, experience and depth will tell in its final league position, much as it did for Brighton in the season just gone. And realistically another 17th placed finish would be a success for the club. To achieve the sort of transformation in style of play at Brighton many envisage Graham Potter has been brought in to do, he will need time and I hope he gets it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither can we expect instant results. Changing the style of play won’t be instant and at this level will prove harder than when Poyet did so in third tier or as Potter did at Swansea in the second tier. It may even take in relegation, but if we are to go down this road I hope then Potter is afforded that time and the odd bump in the road given the limitations he has counting against him.

Of course, given the way Chris Hughton was treated by sections of the fanbase, possibly the most successful manager in the club’s history, it’s far more likely that a bad run of results will tell for Potter before he is given the chance to do that. This is far more likely than those who said they’d rather see Brighton play attacking football and get relegated than play Chris Hughton’s more defence-minded style and stay up stick to their word when it is tested.

I’m all for optimism and at halfway last season genuinely thought Brighton could match or better its best ever finish of 13th in the top flight. And whilst a terrible second half of the season in the league ended those ambitions, to blame Hughton entirely is naive. Whilst his sacking was arguably justified the problems outlined above still remain and explain much of the team’s shortcomings.

It’s not going to be easy for Potter. In my eyes equaling Hughton’s achievements of Premier League survival would amount to a very good season. My concern is whether it will be deemed enough by others.