Johnny Cantor: Brighton fans are beginning to believe this is the year
So, 2017 has started with a bang! Anyone who was there at Craven Cottage on Monday will probably still be on a high at the end of the week after the Seagulls implemented an incredible turnaround against Fulham.
On The Final Whistle on BBC Sussex after 5 o’clock, supporters I spoke to were starting to believe that this could be their year. That view was also echoed by former Albion defender and Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson, who joined myself and Danny Pike on air on Tuesday.
Lawro has a decent understanding of the Championship as he is a regular at Preston home games. He feels the Seagulls and Newcastle will pull away from the chasing pack. However, Chris Hughton’s side can by no means take anything for granted in what Lawrenson believes is the most competitive division in Europe.
So, what if they did achieve promotion this summer? Well, Lawrenson is pragmatic. He believes the current squad would struggle but also was keen to add that new arrivals would no doubt strengthen the group.
I’ve mentioned in the past the measured approach adopted by Burnley and Bournemouth and I would expect Brighton to be the next B to chart a route through with a core from the squad that got them up and a few important additions.
The Premier League this year has become a top six and the rest. Countless teams are still in a relegation fight, whether they admit it or not. As Lawrenson pointed out, mistakes are punished in the top flight and he’s right. I felt for the Cherries this week as they faltered against Arsenal despite a three-goal advantage, but it demonstrates the enormity of the challenge for teams coming up.
In Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, Bournemouth and Burnley have managers up to that task at the moment.
Seagulls supporters will be hoping Chris Hughton can finally achieve the acclaim he richly deserves on BBC1 on a Saturday night (or Sunday!) from August.
One national newspaper described him over the festive period as the most under-rated manager in the country. Albion may reap the benefits of that fact as he is able to continue with project promotion under the radar.
There are tough times ahead both before May and after August, but it is undoubtedly one of the most compelling and intriguing storylines for us all in years.
Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.
Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger
To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com
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