Rewind 20 years, and you would have found Brighton & Hove Albion on the verge of bankruptcy, and potentially losing their place in the football league altogether. Now, coming to the end of the 2017/2018 Premier League season, with one game to go, they have competently ensured another season at the top-flight, and are still in with a fighting chance of finishing in the top half of the table – quite some turnaround.
Now under the control of manager Chris Hughton, the seagulls have firmly established themselves as a Premier League side, and it seems they only have plans to stay.
After spending just £40 million on eight players during the summer transfer window, many football analytics & writers predicted them to finish, if not in 20th, most certainly in the bottom three. But it seemed Brighton have mastered one of the most difficult components of the Premier League after just one season: the transfer market.
Paul Winstanley, head of recruitment at Brighton, must receive a lot of the plaudits for bringing in the right players for their club’s system, rather than all the best ones on offer – a high-risk high-reward strategy.
One of the new recruits brought in over summer was Pascal Gross, a German attacking midfielder, with hawk-eye vision and a keen eye for goal. Gross has contributed to 45% of Brighton’s league goals this season, with seven goals and eight assists (the most out of any player outside the top six), including the winner against Manchester United to ensure their safety – not bad for a player that cost £3m.
Speaking in his final press conference of the season, ahead of their final game with Liverpool away, Chris Hughton spoke highly of the recruitment process at Brighton, saying:
“I’ve been delighted with the recruitment process that we have had here since I arrived. I think we have improved each window.
“It’s (recruitment) huge at any club, bringing in the right players and the right types of players. Some of it can be luck, but I hope we can bring the players into an environment where things will develop for them.” – bringing in the right players has been one of the most influential factors in keeping Brighton in the Premier League.
Hughton also mentioned the importance of a goal-scoring striker in the Premier League, stating: “How do you gage a striker? Mostly it’s about the goals that they give the team, something we have seen Liverpool’s front three provide all season.”
At the age of 34, seasoned striker Glenn Murray has been the focal point of Brighton’s attack. With 12 goals this season, Jamie Vardy is the only player outside of the top 6 with more goals.
On top of securing top-flight football for a second season, the gulls also conjured up an exciting FA cup run, reaching the Quarter-Final where they faced Manchester United’s galacticos. Unfortunately, it was a night of missed chances for Brighton, who put up a strong fight against one of England’s best.
And it wasn’t just on the pitch this homely club are making strides. In a survey conducted by the Shoreham herald, Brighton was voted the best match day experience out of all 20 clubs in the league. Notching up an impressive 81.6, scoring particularly high on how well the club is run, atmosphere and match day magazine, it’s been a good year all-round at Brighton & Hove Albion football club.