Second season syndrome. Three words that have cropped up a couple of times from people asking me about Brighton and Hove Albion since they secured their place in the Premier League for next year.
There is no doubting that it has been an incredible achievement by the Seagulls and both the other two promoted sides, Huddersfield and Newcastle.
Many said that 40 points was the target and Chris Hughton’s squad achieved that with two games to go.
The pressure is off, however, not for long. I have no doubt the management of the club and the recruitment team are already assessing, targeting and even bidding for players to come in over the summer.
You need to work fast, that’s for sure, as the transfer window closes earlier this year ahead of the opening Premier League fixtures in August. Plenty of players and selling clubs will not want to come to agreement too swiftly to get as much for their assets but each of the three sides will need to strengthen to build on the platform of this season.
Sadly it is inevitable that some players will have to move on and some will have contributed to Albion’s promotion to the Premier League. However, I feel that this current campaign in the top flight has been one of the strangest on record.
So many teams have been vulnerable to relegation but inevitably some clubs such as Southampton, West Ham and Crystal Palace are unlikely to be in such precarious positions again next season.
Clubs going down such as Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion will also aim to come back stronger, alongside the team that joins Wolves and Cardiff next year.
Following the Seagulls’ impressive performance in defeat against the champions Manchester City, we took time on BBC Sussex to assess where Albion need to strengthen and you can hear that via our Twitter feed.
We also selected different positions and types of player that may help build on such an impressive start to life in the Premier League.
One of the dilemmas facing them when dipping into the market is getting value for money, particularly when it comes to strikers.
Can they rely on Glenn Murray’s goals again next season? Does Tony Bloom throw money at the situation to give them a sharper edge up front? Do they go for a proven Premier League striker at around £30 million or take a risk on an untested player from abroad?
These questions aren’t necessarily new ones but are even more relevant in the second season to come. Paul Winstanley’s recruitment team did an amazing job and players such as Maty Ryan and Davy Propper as well as player of the season Pascal Gross have consistently delivered. There could well be more to come from Jose Izquierdo and Jurgen Locadia but the club will continue to try to improve the squad.
Sentiment goes out the window really during this process but if there was ever an evening that showed the investment from the top sides it was at the Etihad.
There were individual players who cost more than Albion’s squad put together. Some were even relatively unknown as Pep Guardiola rested a few of his key players.
City are simply in a different galaxy. Clubs like Brighton and Hove Albion cannot compete with the investment, but with shrewd additions and clever planning, they have shown they can go shoulder to shoulder with the big boys on the pitch and have the foundation to do it again next season.
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