Interview: How excited should Brighton fans be ahead of next season?

Craig Hanson 1 month ago

The Seagulls are preparing for a fifth consecutive season in the Premier League

After narrowly avoiding relegation under beloved former manager Chris Hughton in May 2019, Brighton & Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom turned to then Swansea City coach Graham Potter. Since his appointment Potter has managed to maintain the south coast club's status as a Premier League club in back-to-back seasons while bringing an attractive, exciting style of play to the Amex. In his first season they finished 7 points clear and last season they finished a healthy 12 points clear of the drop zone. With their position in the league looking more stable, and the brand of football delighting fans and neutrals, the question is can Brighton push on and take a further step away from the bottom end of the table. What will the fans be hoping for this season? How can the club achieve these goals? We asked some prominent Brighton supporters for their opinions.

We spoke to Liam Tharme, also known as Albion Analytics, Scott from We Are Brighton and Ady Packham from Albion Roar about last season, transfers, the ownership, and the future of the club they all hold dear. Here are their responses:

What's the general consensus among Brighton fans of the job done by Graham Potter thus far?

Liam Tharme (Albion Analytics): Overwhelming positivity and support. His transformation of the play style is a big plus, and if we can see out leads better and keep more clean sheets (and obviously score more) then that’ll just keep growing exponentially.

How do you feel about last season in particular?

Scott from We Are Brighton: It was a season of two halves, really. Two wins from 18 to begin was the club's worst ever start to a top flight season. There was a new club-record winless home streak thrown in as well; some going when you consider the previous record was set in the 1997-98 campaign when we finished 91st out of 92 teams in the Football League. Up until mid-January, that final relegation spot looked like it would be between Brighton and Fulham. Then Potter recalled Pascal Gross and with Robert Sanchez bringing a massive improvement in the defence once he took over from Maty Ryan in goal, we were miles better. Fingers crossed that form continues into 2021-22.

Who would you say was the standout player for the team last season?

Ady Packham from Albion Roar: Our standout player last season by a country mile was Yves Bissouma and if he is still an Albion player when the window slams shut, that will be the best business of the summer. He would not look out of place in any of the top sides across Europe's elite leagues and is just getting better and better.

What can fans expect from new arrival Enock Mwepu? Do you see him having an immediate impact next season?

Liam Tharme (Albion Analytics): An exciting addition, seems to be archetypal of Potter’s style in terms of his pressing and ball winning capabilities. His on-ball tendencies in terms of ball carrying are sure to bring fan excitement too

What other areas of the pitch are in need of reinforcements if Brighton are to take another step forward?

Scott from We Are Brighton: To kind-of paraphrase Tony Blair, Brighton's three priorities for the summer transfer window have to be a striker, a striker and a striker. If the Albion performed to their xG last season, they could have finished as high as fifth in the table rather than the 16th place we actually managed. Reinvest some of the £50m coming in for Ben White in a clinical centre forward who can put away the countless opportunities Gross, Lallana, Leandro Trossard, Solly March and the rest create and we could be in for a huge season. Rely again on Neal Maupay or Aaron Connolly to be the main source of goals and it will be another year of looking over the shoulder.

What are your thoughts on the current ownership and how they are running the club?

Ady Packham from Albion Roar: If there is a better owner in the UK than Tony Bloom then I have yet to see it. Tony is a lifelong Brighton fan whose family has been involved in the club since the 60's. He has put together a management structure at the club in the shape of Paul Barber and Dan Ashworth who are the envy of other much bigger clubs. The vision for the club is to be competing in the top 10 in the next 5 years, not just at first team level but across all the age groups & womens teams. He has invested over £300 million of his own money in building a state of the art stadium & training complex & has also backed the team in achieving premier league status & staying there. Also in Paul Barber we have the best CEO in the country who communicates not only with the fans but saw to it the Brighton led from the front through the pandemic. We are immensely lucky to have them

With Ben White officially off to Arsenal, are there any concerns about losing any other big players? Who would fans be most reluctant to see go?

Liam Tharme (Albion Analytics): Yves Bissouma is the other one strongly linked with a move away, though bringing in Mwepu has perhaps made fans more relaxed on that front

Can you tell us about any youth prospects on the periphery of the first team who might break through and have an impact next season?

Scott from We Are Brighton: Reda Khadra is one to keep an eye on. Brighton signed him from Dortmund last summer and he has looked very good in the Under 23s and in a brief cameo as a substitute away at Manchester City in January. He is a winger who is quick, powerful and direct, making him unlike any other player in Potter's first team squad. That different threat he poses should have him in and around the senior setup this season. The Albion also have Leo Ostigard coming back from a year on loan at Coventry City. He earned rave reviews in the Championship - just as White had done at Leeds in 2019-20 - and many Brighton fans are hoping he will get the opportunity to seamlessly take over from White in the back three.

After comfortably avoiding relegation in the past two seasons, and as the club enters its fifth consecutive term in the top flight, what would be considered a successful campaign in 2021/22?

Ady Packham from Albion Roar: As a club we are always looking to progress. We want to be looking up rather than down. Our highest ever top flight finish is 13th so anything above that would be great. Also doing the double over Palace & finishing above them would be brill.

The answers to many of these questions will start to become clear when the new Premier League season kicks off in just over two weeks. Brighton will kick off their campaign away at Burnley on Saturday 14 August. By then we may have seen some new players come through the door, perhaps some will have gone. Fans will be excited to see how well their team can start the season.

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