Chris Hughton’s last shot in the Premier League involved an ill-fated spell at Norwich, but he has proved that he can handle this level during his successful time at Newcastle United.
Now Hughton is back at the top-table with Brighton and Hove Albion and he will be hoping his experience is more like the Newcastle days, rather than that bad time when he was in charge of the canaries.
On the face of it, this Brighton side has a lot in common with the Newcastle team he managed; they have just been promoted, have a solid group of players and team morale is at an all-time high. However, they also have a problem with squad depth. How they do in this year’s league will depend on how they deal with that and other issues.
The Seagulls did impress during last season’s Championship promotion run, but you’d have to worry about their inability to finish first after being in the prime position for the whole year.
Players such as Glenn Murray and Sane Duffy were top class in the second tier, so it will be interesting to see how well they can adapt in the Premier League. Duffy has often looked like a player who struggles under pressure when playing at a higher level – for instance, he received a red card at a vital time during the Republic of Ireland’s European Championship run a couple of years ago.
Meanwhile, Murray’s Premier League stints have brought mix results, but one could never really say that he is proven.
Another player that will be hoping to prove himself at this level is Anthony Knockaert. The winger was arguably the best player in the entire Championship and set-up and scored goals for fun. If he can replicate that form, Brighton might just stay in the division.
Brighton has been incredibly active in transfer market, but they have not been going overboard either. Of the five signings they made, they have not spent over £5m.
It will be interesting to see how this approach works against the bigger sides that are more willing to break the bank. Their completed list of summer signings looks like this – Pascal Gross (£2.55m, Ingolstadt), Josh Kerr (undisclosed, Celtic), Mathew Ryan (£5m, Valencia), Markus Suttner (£3.8m, FC Ingolstadt) and Mathias Normann (undisclosed, FK Bodo/Glimt).
They have also sold some top players – David Stockdale (Birmingham), Chris O’Grady (Chesterfield), Elvis Manu (Genclerbirligi SK), Jordan Maguire-Drew (Lincoln), Christian Walton (Wigan) and Rob Hunt (Oldham) have all left the club. This turnover being a success will be vital to the club’s survival bid.
Traditionally, teams that have a high turnover of players have a tendency not do well when competing to stay in the league. Brighton will be hoping to buck that trend. However, we must admit that the 6/5 that is available for them to get relegated is very tempting indeed.
Nonetheless, we believe in Chris Hughton and think he is one of the most under rated managers in all of Europe. Thus, we are advising you to go with the 4/6 odds on Brighton to avoid the drop and make it a season to remember. They are not in the bottom three sides in this league and we think they have what it takes to remain a Premier League side.