Hughton faces important summer of recruitment

hughton
Source: OfficialBHAFC via Twitter

Brighton exorcised their demons of past promotion failures to get over the line and earn their spot in the Premier League for the 2017-18 campaign.

Chris Hughton’s men fell frustratingly short last season on the final day as Middlesbrough were able to secure a 1-1 draw that sent them into the top flight.

However, the Seagulls responded with a brilliant effort throughout this term to finish in second place, with only a poor run of form at the end of the term costing them the title.

Hughton succeeded where his predecessors Gus Poyet and Oscar Garcia failed to finish in the top two.

The two managers endured playoff defeats to fall short, while Sami Hyypia’s ill-fated spell in charge almost sent the club back to League One before Hughton righted the ship.

The 58-year-old has performed magnificently to guide Brighton back into the top flight for the first time in 24 years, but the challenge ahead is only greater as he knows firsthand from his experience with Newcastle United and Norwich City.

Brighton are backed in the latest 888sport betting odds at 6/5 to be relegated from the Premier League, with Hughton and his men determined to avoid the fate of Middlesbrough and Hull City, both of whom failed to retain their status after earning promotion.

The Seagulls will need to strengthen in certain areas ahead of their Premier League campaign, with the club having already moved to sign German midfielder Pascal Gross for an undisclosed fee.

He will need to be one of many as Hughton’s men are short in quality in key positions, none more so than upfront. With Glenn Murray leading the way with 20 goals last season, the Seagulls will need to improve with a proven goalscorer.

glenn-murray
Source: SquawkaNews via Twitter

Murray has top-flight experience but failed to maintain his form from the second tier. Tomer Hemed has been a consistent performer in the Championship, scoring 11 goals, but at the age of 30, he is unlikely to improve in the top flight.

As a result, finding a marksman who can fire on a consistent basis must be the Seagulls’ priority.

Midfield is a position where Hughton can be optimistic that his players can make the step up with relative ease. Anthony Knockaert scored 15 goals in the Championship and has been the target of top-flight outfits in the past.

The Frenchman should be able to transition seamlessly, while Dale Stephens and Jamie Murphy could also rise to the occasion. Steve Sidwell’s presence could provide experience in the middle of the park, although a further injection of quality is needed even with the signing of Gross.

Brighton were outstanding at the back-end of last season, conceding 40 goals in their 46 matches. Lewis Dunk is the standout man in the backline, and at the age of 25, he should be relishing the prospect about matching the standards of the Premier League.

He should be more than capable of remaining an integral part of the team, but there should also be concerns surrounding him. Shane Duffy was signed for £4.5m last season and fared well in the team, but taking another step up could be an issue.

Bruno has been at the club for five years and has provided excellent leadership at the back. However, he is now 36 and will be exposed by pace on the flank if Hughton does not accommodate him in the middle of the defence.

Hughton will have to delve wisely into the transfer market but has proven to have a strong pedigree in keeping sides in the top flight in the past.

Seagulls’ supporters should have a quiet confidence that their team will at least be worthy battlers due to the presence of a strong spine in their quest to avoid the drop.

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