Big summer ahead for Brighton
Frank Monkhouse | 14 May 2017
Seagulls already moving on targets
Brighton’s sorry end to the Championship season saw them throw away the chance to win the title, losing it to Newcastle on the final day. In an end-to-end battle with The Magpies throughout the campaign, The Seagulls were well-placed to go up to the Premier League as winners.
Going in to the final three games of the term, Chris Hughton’s side had an advantage over Rafa Benitez and co, forcing bookies to mark them down as strong favourites for the trophy, but one point from a possible nine saw the dreams of fans fall flat. Defeat to Norwich and Bristol City was followed with a 1-1 draw vs Aston Villa, Jack Grealish scoring a last-minute leveller, before the curtain dropped.
Brighton are back in the big time
Everyone at the Falmer Stadium, from the players and management right through to those in the stands, will be furious at the manner in which the side appeared to choke when it mattered most. It is now in the history books however, Newcastle are 2016/17 Championship winners, as was expected in pre-season, leaving Brighton to settle for a silver medal.
Every cloud, and Brighton are back in the Premier League, taking heart from sides who finished runner-up in recent years. Being best of the rest didn’t seem to affect the likes of Southampton, Watford and Burnley over the past few seasons, and each are now a familiar face at the head table.
Work done in the summer at both Brighton and Newcastle will be the difference between the two when their Premier League season kicks off in the summer, the Championship race then nothing but a distant memory.
Boss working to keep team together
So, what do Brighton have to do to compete in the top-tier next season? Manager Hughton has already worked to secure the future of Dale Stephens, who penned a four-year contract, and the player told fans he was looking forward to the club’s summer recruitment drive, and the added competition that comes with new faces arriving in the dressing room.
Another hammering down the manager’s door for a new deal is experienced midfielder Steve Sidwell, who says he wants to be involved next season, and has done everything he can to keep his place in the team going forward. Sidwell was a regular starter in the side, but knows his contract is due to expire in the coming weeks.
Yaya Toure off to the Falmer?
As well as holding on to the good players they have, and cutting off a bit of the deadwood, Brighton must recruit well in the summer, and that’s not just about throwing cash around, as big-spending Middlesbrough found out this season. Hughton must bring in leaders, players who wouldn’t have folded under the pressure of that Championship title run-in, and those who have the pedigree to compete in one of Europe’s major competitions week in, week out.
The press have wasted no time in linking the promoted side to a list of interesting names, and they are said to be hot on the heels of Man City’s Yaya Toure. That would, of course, be a bold move, and if they were to get the experienced midfielder, he would walk into the team. That’s filed under rumours at the minute, but Toure is the level of player Hughton will be on the lookout for.