View from the opposition: Brighton fans feeling optimistic ahead of Premier League campaign
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Ahead of the visit of Premier League new boys Brighton to Carrow Road, Seagulls fan ANTHONY JAMES looks ahead to a top-flight season with Chris Hughton in charge of his team.
Has promotion sunk in yet and just how excited are you for the Premier League season?
Promotion finally sunk in yesterday when I arrived home from work and saw that our new home shirt had arrived with those Premier League badges adorning the sleeves. It’s a fantastic new chapter to what is an absolute fairytale of a story. The club has been ready for a few years in terms of its off-the-pitch elements. Now we’ve finally taken that final step.
At this early stage, do you think Brighton can survive in the top flight this season?
When anyone asks me where I think we’ll finish next May, I’m automatically saying “fourteenth”. I have no idea why I’m so drawn to this number but I am. I don’t just think we’ll survive. I think we’ll survive comfortably. We have a great stadium, fantastic manager and a squad that knows how to play off one another. It was so important that we kept the bulk of the squad together going in to what is undoubtedly the biggest season in the club’s history.
What have you made of the club’s transfer business so far?
I think we’re doing smart transfer business. It’s no secret that we don’t have a huge playing budget. The one thing we do have though is a clever and resourceful base for scouting new recruits at our world-class training facility in Lancing. I’m very excited by Matthew Ryan – our new number one. As I write this we’re heavily linked with Leicester’s Tom Lawrence. We need a fast versatile striker to supplement Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed. I have no doubt that this will be our next addition.
Which of last season’s players do you think can kick on and perform well in the top flight?
I feel like Lewis Dunk, Solly March and Anthony Knockaert will be our star performers this term. March has scored impressive goals throughout pre-season and the desire is clear for him to succeed. Lewis Dunk should have been given the opportunity to represent our country at international level in my opinion. ‘Little Magician’ Knockaert was arguably the difference between second and seventh place for us last season. On a side note, Glenn Murrays Premier League experience will also prove invaluable.
Norwich fans felt Chris Hughton was too defensive in the Premier League, does this worry Seagulls supporters?
I think when you’re new to the Premier League you need to make sure that you’re set up to attack from the back. The league is full of world class attacking talent. As a result of this I would rather we kept points through playing a back four or five as opposed to leaking goals week after week. Our style of football last season saw us promoted by mid-April. I have complete faith in our manager and the squad he’s putting together for the forthcoming campaign.
Do you expect Hughton to field a strong side at Carrow Road today?
Although we’ve looked impressive in our previous friendlies throughout pre-season, the trip to Carrow Road this afternoon will certainly represent a step up in class to Fortuna Düsseldorf, Crawley Town and Southend United. We’re getting closer and closer to the big kick-off and I therefore see Chris Hughton fielding our strongest eleven – bar Anthony Knockaert as he’s unfortunately touch and go for August 12th.
• Anthony is a 29-year-old Brighton season-ticket holder who writes for Seagulls fanzine The Albion Mag. He can be found on Twitter @AJ_BHAFC