Brighton and Hove Albion come into the new season with a new manager, a new style of play and a few new players – but will they be able to make it work? Next up in our Premier League previews, Graham Potter and Brighton.
State of Play
New manager Graham Potter comes into Brighton with no Premier League experience, just one year experience managing in England and no experience of a relegation battle. He came to England last summer with Swansea, where his slick possession based footballing philosophy won hearts, but not as many points as they hoped for. Even after a late flurry, Swansea finished tenth, a few points off the play-off positions.
Now, he replaces Chris Hughton on the south coast, where he will face a different challenge entirely. Brighton finished last season just one place and two points above the relegation zone following a horrid second half of the season. This year, they could very well be in a similar situation, and may regret their managerial choice when the end of season run-in commences.
In terms of transfers, Brighton have spent £41million on four players. They are winger Leandro Trossard (£18million) from Genk, centre-back Adam Webster (£19million) from Bristol City, central midfielder Taylor Richards (£990k) from Man City and Matt Clarke (£3million) from Portsmouth – the latter was loaned out to Derby County.
Although they have strengthened in Trossard and Webster, I can’t help but feel they could have done with a couple more. Last season, their top scorer was Glenn Murray on 15 goals (all comps), but then there was a ten goal drop to second place which found Florin Andone on five. With Glenn Murray now 35-years-old and Andone yet to find his goal scoring form, maybe they should have prioritised a striker in this window.
In terms of pre-season, Potter’s side have done quite well winning four of their five warm up games. That included an emphatic 4-0 over Birmingham and an impressive win over Valencia. One of the standout stats from pre-season was Shane Duffy’s goalscoring prowess – three goals across the five games for the centre-half.
Signing of the Summer
Not a whole lot to choose from for this but regardless, my choice is Leandro Trossard. As mentioned earlier, the 24-year-old winger arrived at Brighton from Belgian side Genk for a fee in the region of £18million. He can play on either wing, in the number ten role and even in the middle of the park.
Last season, Trossard managed 22 goals and 11 assists in 47 appearances in all competitions for Genk. If he can replicate that level of goal scoring prowess in England this season, it’ll go a long way towards easing Brighton’s worries in front of goal. We can say, with a pretty confident demeanour, he won’t score 22 goals this season – but he should get at least a few. That bit quality on the wing could be the spark that ignites the flame in Florin Andone’s goal scoring boots too – they’ll certainly hope so.
As I said earlier, this won’t be an easy season for Brighton. I can see them struggling in lot of games, particularly against those in the top half. Unless they are able to strengthen in the centre-forward position between now and Thursday evening, they will struggle against anyone who can defend. If you can’t score goals, you will go down – that’s just a fact.
Nearing the end of last season, Brighton went six games without a goal in the Premier League. That has to be worrying when you consider they haven’t strengthened all that much in that department. It also seems as though they might lose star defender Lewis Dunk between now and Thursday as Leicester will look to replace outgoing defender Harry Maguire – hence the signing of Adam Webster.
There are a lot of variables for Brighton this year. How quickly will they adapt to the new system? How will the new signings settle in? Can Glenn Murray still carry the goal scoring responsibility at his advanced age?
This year, I think Brighton will find themselves in a similar situation to where they were at the end of last season – only this time around, I’m not so sure they’ll be able to escape. They might just scrape survival, but for now, my money is on a disappointing return to the Championship for the Seagulls.