Confidence breeds confidence under Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton is a hugely-experienced manager
Chris Hughton is a hugely-experienced manager

We’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2014-15 season.

We’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2014-15 season - 27 League games played, to be precise; six league wins, 11 draws, and 11 defeats - and it’s fair to say the average Albion fan's outlook is far more positive than that of just over a month ago.

Cast your mind back to the start of the campaign. Two proven goalscorers had signed - along with some promising youngsters - and the state-of-the-art training ground was ready. Could Sami Hyypia build on Garcia’s play-off finish?

August gleaned four wins, two in the League Cup, which included a goal-of-the-season contender from Rohan Ince at Swindon Town - an encouraging start. The following month witnessed just a solitary victory, at Burton in the League Cup. More worryingly, though, was the fact that our recognised strikers had scored just one goal between them in 13 games.

Hyppia suffered a devastating blow at Vicarage Road on October 4 as combative midfielder Andrew Crofts tore his cruciate ligament for the second time in 10 months.

Unsurprisingly, as Albion have bizarrely not registered a single victory in October - home or away - since the Amex opened its shiny new doors in 2011, the month was winless.

Crowds were a few thousand down - the actual attendance figures were even lower - and the natives were getting restless.

Hyppia didn’t have any luck with injuries, but his fit signings were not having an impact either. A poor Albion XI were easily despatched out of the League Cup at Spurs before finally winning again in the league, at home to Wigan. The influential LuaLua was sidelined by a knee injury and loan signings were appearing more frequently on the teamsheet.

Sami’s body language and general demeanour was one of a beaten man and the Finn did the honourable thing and resigned just before Christmas.

Caretaker manager Nathan Jones inspired his men to a respectable Boxing Day draw with Reading, then a fine victory at Fulham, before handing over the reins to the experienced Hughton for the FA Cup win at Brentford.

Football is all about confidence. If the players believe in their manager, they perform better. This encourages the crowd, which, in turn, further inspires the players.

In Hughton, Albion have a vastly-experienced manager at this level, who is widely regarded as one of the nicest men in football. If the second-half performance against Arsenal can be used as a barometer for the remainder of the season, things are undoubtedly looking up.