Brighton and Hove Albion secured promotion on Easter Monday with a win over relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic and they will go on to become the 47th club to play in the Premier League.
This has been a long time coming for the Seagulls, as they have finished in the play-off positions in three of the last four seasons.
Although they didn’t have the luck or quality to triumph on any of those occasions, they have been one of the best sides in the Championship over that period and they have now finally achieved automatic promotion in spectacular fashion.
There has been sustained progress from the club since they were promoted to the second tier and their potential as a club is huge.
How did they earn promotion?
After the disappointment of missing out on finishing in the top two on the final day of last season, it would have been understandable for there to be a hangover at the beginning of this campaign.
However, that wasn’t the case.
The club strengthened in the summer with the signings of Shane Duffy, Glenn Murray, Oliver Norwood and Sebastien Pocognoli, while Steve Sidwell made his loan move permanent.
These were shrewd pick ups from the club and they have all played their part in the Seagulls’ promotion campaign.
A quick start was crucial and they managed to take eight points from their first four matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
Their success has been built on a solid defence and an incredible team spirit. They have the best defensive record in the league, conceding 36 goals in 43 matches. In addition to that, they have kept 21 clean sheets.
Chris Hughton has done an excellent job at making sure his side is solid at the back with good organisation defensively.
Their first-choice centre-back partnership of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been exceptional and they should both be able to take the step up to the top flight.
It was a coup to keep the former at the club last summer amidst interest from the Premier League, while the signing of the latter ensured that they had a quality player to partner Dunk.
Brighton are a physically imposing team, but they also have a lot of technical ability. It is the perfect blend for the Championship and it isn’t a surprise that they have gained promotion with relative comfort this season. They have been the most consistent team and deserve all the praise coming their way.
In terms of their team spirit, it is easy to see the friendship that exists among the players. After the death of Anthony Knockaert’s father earlier this season, the squad came together with ten of his team-mates flying to France to offer support at the funeral.
This isn’t common in football and it definitely will have had a massive impact on the French winger, who later won the Championship player of the year award.
Did everything go to plan?
It is difficult to criticise a team that have earned promotion as comfortably as Brighton have, but one disappointment will be their record in big matches this season. They lost both matches against Newcastle United, while they also lost away to home to Leeds United and Huddersfield Town.
The Seagulls have built the perfect squad for the Championship, but there are doubts about whether some of the stars of this season can make the step up. Glenn Murray has struggled to assert himself at the highest level, while Bruno, Steve Sidwell, and Liam Rosenior are all the wrong side of 30.
There are many in the squad that haven’t had experience at the highest level and they will certainly need to strengthen in the summer. However, they are a club that have consistently progressed and Chris Hughton will know better than most what changes need to be implemented before next season begins.
Can they establish themselves in the Premier League?
Brighton and Hove Albion have everything to not only stay up in the Premier League, but to push on from there and establish themselves at that level.
The Amex Stadium is an excellent modern-day arena and has only been their home since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. It was designed with the Premier League in mind and they have now finally got to the top flight.
Their training facilities are also excellent and this isn’t a club that will be happy with only one season in the Premier League. They will have ambitions greater than that. T
here are question marks about Hughton’s ability to manage at the highest level, but he has more than earned the opportunity to have another crack with Brighton. T
here will be money available to him this summer and it is an exciting time to be a Seagulls fan. It is too early to speculate about whether they will stay up next season, but they have more than a fair chance.
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