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2014-15 Season Review Part Two

Another season ending in the play off semi finals, another manager leaving as a result. This time Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation meaning another summer spent looking for another management who would be charged with making it third time lucky in terms of reaching the promised land of the top flight.

Of course, that never materialised as new boss Sami Hyypia was left with a squad devoid of any sort of quality as we ended up fighting to leave the Championship via a very different door - namely, the back one into League One.

Hyppia lasted all of six months in the job before handing over to former Norwich City manager Chris Hughton who led the side away from danger but was dogged with problems if his own - namely, boring football and a complete inability to score goals.

Take a deep breath - the 2014-15 Season Review is likely to be a painful one...

January 2015
The Hughton era got off with those rarest of things - a victory away at Brentford. Goals in the last two minutes from Lewis Dunk and a belated first for the club from Chris O'Grady secured a 2-0 win at Griffin Park and a glamour fourth round home tie with Arsenal. That was followed up by a 1-0 victory at Charlton Athletic through Rohan Ince to make it three wins and three clean sheets in a row in the capital. It was back to Earth with a bump when Brentford gained their revenge in the league 1-0 at the Amex and Leon Best arrived on-loan from Blackburn to much fanfare. The rejuvenated Joao Teixeira scored twice along with Sam Baldock - now seemingly a left winger - as a first home win since November was recorded 3-2 over Ipswich Town which led nicely into the Gunners visit. Totally outclassed in the first half, Brighton took the game to the holders in the second with Baldock and O'Grady both netting but goals from Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky saw the visitors triumph 3-2. The month ended with a horrible 1-0 defeat at rock bottom Blackpool while summer signings Adrian Colunga and Toko Nzuzi both departed in the transfer window and Beram Kayal arrived.
Record: P6, W3, D0, L3, F8, A7

Results: 2-0 Brentford A, 1-0 Charlton A, 0-1 Brentford H, 3-2 Ipswich H, 2-3 Arsenal H, 0-1 Blackpool A
League Position at End of Month: 2st
   
February 2015
Dougie Freedman's first game in charge of Nottingham Forest saw him secure a 3-2 win for the Tricky Trees with Kayal scoring his first for the club before Hughton began to show what we hope aren't his true colours as two ultra defensive, totally boring displays secured 0-0 draws away at Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday in back-to-back games on the road. A 23tth loan signing arrived in the form of Emmanuel Ledesma from Middlesbrough and David Stockdale's penalty save went a long way to securing a first home win on a Saturday since August, Teixeira and new found goal machine Inigo Calderon both scoring braces in a thrilling 4-3 victory over Birmingham City. Calderon was at it again when Leeds visited four days later, this time netting the best goal since Andy Crosby scored with his ear back in the early days at Withdean as Leeds were beaten 2-0 with Baldock continuing his rejuvenation on the left with another strike. Paddy McCourt departed for Notts County on loan as another glowing tribute to David Burke's summer transfer dealings with the month ending in defeat at Bolton Wanderers, predictably the Albion failing to score in a 1-0 defeat.
Record: P6, W2, D2, L2, F8, A7

Results: 2-3 Nottingham Forest H, 0-0 Cardiff A, 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday A, 4-3 Birmingham H, 2-0 Leeds H, 0-1 Bolton A
League Position at End of Month: 20th
   
March 2015
Daylight robbery was committed at The Amex as league leaders Derby County missed a world record number of chances thanks to woeful finishing and the brilliance of David Stockdale, ending up on the end of a 2-0 defeat as goals from Dale Stephens and Kazenga LuaLua secured a big three points. Baldock received a season ending injury in that game and his absence was keenly felt. Reading were 2-1 winners at the Madjeski Stadium with O'Grady scoring his only league goal of the campaign from the penalty spot and Stockdale had a bit of a howler as Wolves salvaged a 1-1 draw after Bruno had given Brighton the lead at the Amex. Once again we failed to score against a relegated side in a 0-0 draw at Millllll making it no goals across four games against both the Lions and an even-worse Blackpool. A brilliant headed own goal from Matt Kilgallon of Blackburn secured the final victory of the season 1-0 at Ewood Park - and little did we know at the time but he would also be the penultimate scorer of the campaign. Creativity, let alone scoring, was obviously a problem and Hughton tried to address it, bringing in another loan signing from Middlesbrough with Mustapaha Carayol joining.
Record: P5, W2, D2, L1, F5, A3

Results: 2-0 Derby H, 1-2 Reading A, 1-1 Wolves H, 0-0 Milllllll A, 1-0 Blackburn A
League Position at End of Month: 16th
   
April & May 2015
Ten points clear of the relegation zone, safety was all but assured although the Albion did their best to cock it right up, failing to win a game again. Good Friday bought a 1-0 defeat at home to Norwich, Easter Monday a 1-0 defeat away at Rotherham and eventual champions AFC Bournemouth left The Amex with a 2-0 victory. Huddersfield's visit again ended with no Brighton goals as a 0-0 draw was recorded, meaning no Albion player had scored since Bruno against Wolves in six games and over a month. Even worse, we'd only managed ten shots on target in all that time. League One became a possibility again with a woeful defeat at Wigan 2-1 although positively Stephens did manage to score. Stockdale was considered largely at fault for the Latics winner and responded by having a complete Twitter meltdown, arguing with both our WeAreBrighton account and Adam Virgo. Blackburn's victory over Millwall secured a Championship place for 2015/16 which meant the last two games were rendered meaningless - a 2-0 defeat at home to Watford which ensured their promotion and a 0-0 draw away at Middlesbrough. Talk about finishing the season with a bang.
Record: P7, W0, D2, L5, F1, A8

Results: 0-1 Norwich H, 0-1 Rotherham A, 0-2 Bournemouth H, 0-0 Huddersfield H, 1-2 Wigan A, 0-2 Watford H, 0-0 Middlesbrough A
League Position at End of Month: 21st
   
A season that will be easily forgotten
Put simply, 2014/15 will be like 2006/07 - one of those seasons that you easily forget because it was so bloody dull. From start to finish - bar a little spell in January and February - it has been nothing short of terrible, setting the club back arguably a couple of years from being promotion chasers again. The appointment of Sami Hyypia was an understandable gamble that backfired. What wasn't understandable was replacing proven class such as Tomasz Kuszczak, Leonardo Ulloa, Will Buckley, Andrea Orlandi and going further back to last January, Liam Bridcutt and Ashley Barnes with poorer replacements. What makes it even worse is that if the club is true to their word that this is the most expensive squad in Brighton and Hove Albion history, then there has been a serious amount of money wasted. We've seemingly gone part of the way to addressing that by sacking David Burke who was largely responsible for most of this business and the one permanent signing we've made since then - Kayal - has looked a class above anything we currently have which is an encouraging sign for the future. What needs to happen this summer is six or seven quality signings and a little bit of consistency in the dugout as going through three managers in 18 months is a worrying sign. Whether those much needed arrivals happen will depends on the board breaking away from its determination not to be 1p more than it feels a player is worth. If it doesn't, another long season could be in store.

What were your highlights of the second half of the 2014/15 season? Did Chris Hughton do a good job in keeping the Albion up? You can share them with us using the comments form below.

 


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