The latest part of our season preview is up, focussing on Brighton & Hove Albion
TENTH PLACE in the Championship represented a good return to the second tier for Brighton and Hove Albion. However, after an excellent start the Seagulls could count themselves unlucky not to have been in the Play Off picture come May, this year they might well bridge that gap.
All the while, Gus Poyet’s managerial stock rises, having taken the Sussex outfit into the Championship before worrying the more established names in the division for large chunks of the season.
Brighton is a club going places, the AmEx Stadium is a thing of beauty as well as part of an impressive club infrastructure that includes a good young manager, an ambitious and wealthy owner in Tony Bloom and an equally ambitious, talented playing staff.
Strengths: Quality has undoubtedly been added to the Albion squad this summer. Manchester City left-back Wayne Bridge has signed on-loan for the season – a sign of the club’s ambition & wealth, whilst former Watford loanee Tomasz Kuszczack has joined and will become the club’s number one. Former Valencia defender Bruno has also signed on a free transfer, further testimony to the club’s commitment to kicking on.
Weakness’: Goals. The £3.25m signing of Craig Mackail-Smith last summer still only brought nine league goals the club whilst top-scorer Ashley Barnes bagged just 11 in the Championship. One or the other or a new face will have to take on the goalscoring burden if the Seagulls are to meet their potential.
Best business so far: The signing of ex-Watford favourite Kuszczack is a tremendous addition. The Polish international reminded us all of his quality during a three month loan spell last season, dislodging Scott Loach with ease. If there was a criticism of the club’s goalkeepers beforehand, there certainly won’t be now.
Star man: Twenty year-old centre back Lewis Dunk is extremely highly-rated on the south coast. Despite only making 37 appearances during his two years in the Albion first-team, Dunk has earned himself a glowing reputation and was linked with moves to Newcastle and Liverpool last season. An England U21 cap as well, the 6’3 defender will be an automatic pick at the heart of the Albion defence this season.
In: Tomasz Kuzczack (Manchester United) free, Bruno (Valencia) free & Wayne Bridge (Manchester City) loan.
Out: David Gonzalez (released), Michael Poke (Torquay Utd) free, Alan Navarro (Swindon Town) free, Grant Hall (Tottenham Hotspur) free, Jake Forster-Caskey (Oxford Utd) loan & Yaser Kasim (Luton Town) loan.
wfc123: Play-Off chase, they might not get there but there will be a lot of very good sides competing to take place in the end of season lottery so there will be no shame in that. Everything is in place for this club to take off.
chrisgwfc: I expect them to be in the playoff shake up without a doubt. Came close last season and have addresed the goalkeeping issue by signing the best GK in the league this year. Will still need to add another forward to help Mackail-Smith with the goals.