Gordon Smith on Brighton: Promotion, strikers & ‘best ever’ bosses

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I was part of the first Brighton and Hove Albion team to reach the top tier of English football, back in 1979. We’re the only Seagulls side to have achieved that feat…so far. But despite defeat against Newcastle United yesterday, I’m still confident of automatic promotion at the AMEX Stadium.

So, how would Brighton fare in the top flight? Who should the main summer transfer target be? And how much would reaching the Premier League enhance Chris Hughton’s glowing reputation? Here’s my take on all that, and more…

Automatic promotion still on the cards

Brighton had a very tough game at home to Newcastle in midweek, losing 2-1. Credit to Newcastle for getting the result, but I think the result was very harsh on the Seagulls. They deserved at least a point from that performance.

Had they won that game, it would’ve taken Brighton four points clear at the top, and more importantly, nine points clear of Huddersfield [who are in third place, having played a game less].

I still think Brighton will get automatic promotion, though. Their form and level of performances have been excellent – they just had a bad last 10 minutes against Newcastle. And for me, there’s still a good chance of them going up as champions.

Ace attack has entertained the fans

I love watching Brighton. They play very nice passing football, and have some excellent finishers in the likes of Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed. I like the way they get the ball down and play out from the back – and it’s effective. You see a lot of quick, attacking moves which work to devastating effect.

The fans have responded to that by turning out in huge numbers to watch that football, and it’s all a bit more glamorous than my days playing at the old Goldsands Ground. But I get down to see a few games at the AMEX Stadium and it’s great to be a part of that atmosphere and enjoy the football they’re playing under Chris Hughton.

But strikers still key to successful summer

I do still think they should look to add one more striker in the summer if they do get promoted. It’s a tough one, because I always feel sorry for players when they help a club reach the Premier League, and then get muscled out of the team or sold on because the manager brings in a raft of new faces.

The guys they’ve got have done brilliantly in the Championship, but I think more than in any other area of the pitch, it’s a huge step up from there to the top-flight. You can’t survive in the Prem without a top-quality striker, and I think that’s where the money will be spent.

Brighton may go abroad for that player, but I think with this being their first season in the division for decades, they’ll probably go for someone from within the Prem.

I’m tipping back-to-back wins next

The next two games are both matches which Brighton should be taking maximum points from – even though they’re away games. Nottingham Forest have lost three of the last four, and Rotherham United are massively adrift at the bottom of the division.

Every game presents its difficulties, of course, and obviously it’s a game they’ll both be fired up to win, with Brighton being up at the top.

But if they continue their current form, there’s no reason the Seagulls won’t pick up the six points. They’re a cut above both of these sides.

Hughton on course for legendary status

I think Chris Hughton has done a brilliant job as boss. Obviously Brighton came very close last season, and fell just short in heartbreaking fashion, but he’s done fantastically well to pick the momentum back up – and they look set to get over the line this year.

During my time, we had Alan Mullery in charge. He took us up to the top-flight and is regarded as the greatest manager in the club’s history. But I think if Hughton manages that feat this season, he’ll be right alongside Alan as the best ever Brighton bosses.

That’s because not only are the results he’s produced absolutely top-class, but he’s also got the side playing such exciting, attractive football – and it’s caught the imagination of the whole city.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing Brighton back where they should be, in the top tier next season!

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.