Seagulls Taking Flight: A look at Brighton’s season so far

With Brighton exceeding all expectations in the Premier League, we spoke to some key figures.

Brighton are approaching the climax of their maiden Premier League season with hopes high that the club can retain their top-tier status. Overtime spoke to former manager Micky Adams, ex-Brighton player Gary Stevens and Liz Costa, the vice-chairman of the Supporters Club, about the highs and lows of a rollercoaster season.

Micky Adams (left) and ex-chairman Dick Knight (right)

What are your high points of the season?

Micky Adams: “Every win they have had. For them at this level, every point is precious. The highs have been getting wins and picking up points against some of the top teams, especially the Arsenal result.”

Gary Stevens: “The high points are that they have been able to compete and survive so far in the Premier League, especially considering it has been a big step up from the Championship.”

Liz Costa: “Probably beating Arsenal, the first of the big six. When we were in the old First Division they were our bogey team. The first time we played them they completely trounced us 4-0 and this was our welcome to the big league – so beating them last week was a great feeling.”

What are your low points?

Micky Adams: “I don’t think they have had any this season as they have been steady. In the Premier League you can go long spells without wins and still survive, but Chris Hughton has kept the players focused.”

Liz Costa: “Probably the complete capitulation against Chelsea at home. They have struggled away from home when it’s not the same atmosphere. Away from home, going to Chelsea for example, they seemed to find it difficult. I think being completely outclassed at home was the most disappointing.”

What does it mean for the city with Brighton being in the Premier League?

Micky Adams: “The amount of away fans that travel and spend money and spend the weekend here is great.”

Gary Stevens: “Well I think it has been huge with the amount of global publicity you receive. I am in Asia and every Premier League game is televised somewhere here.

Liz Costa: “Well the first thing it brings is publicity. We have been on Match of the Day each Saturday and every game has been televised somewhere in the world. We have one of the most attractive stadiums in the world and the Premier League brings more publicity and tourism to the town.”

How do you feel the season has gone?

Micky Adams: “As well as can be expected. It will be even better once they are at the 38-40 point mark as that will bring a huge sense of relief. However, you have got to pick up the points to stay in the division.”

Gary Stevens: “I think it has gone very well. I believe they will stay up even after a slow start to the season. With eight games left, if you would have said we would be 11th – everyone would have taken that.”

Liz Costa: “A lot better than we anticipated. Our feeling was just to stay above or even a couple of places above the relegation zone – that would have been perfect. It’s been a strange season, losing at places we should have won at. We were dismal against Huddersfield and West Bromwich Albion, but we then went and beat Arsenal at home last week. We are a bit like a chameleon team as you are never sure what side is going to turn up.”

Who have been your standout performers so far this season?

Micky Adams: “Glenn Murray is a player who was there when I was at the club. He is getting on a bit but is looking after himself both on and off the field and doing what he needs to keep Brighton up. Also Matthew Ryan, the goalkeeper, deserves credit as he was virtually unknown when he joined the club. Lewis Dunk also stands out to me as a home-grown player.”

Gary Stevens: “Well I think that the two central defenders, Shane Duffy and Dunk, have been huge. Matthew Ryan has also come on as a goalkeeper. I think Glenn Murray’s goals have to be included in that. However, football is a team game and I think it has been the team effort, togetherness and camaraderie that has shaped the season they have had to date.”

Liz Costa: “Dunk, Duffy and Ryan. Without those three we would have struggled as our defence has been superb. The understanding Duffy and Dunk have is great and the height they get when they jump in the air is scary! We have really missed Dale Stephens on occasions. You do not know what he is going to do when he’s on the ball, but we are better with him in the team – without him we are a disaster.”

How far do you think Brighton could go in the long term?

Micky Adams: “Tony Bloom has done a fabulous job with the money he has put into the club – just look at the club’s infrastructure now with the stadium and training ground. I think if they can stay up, they can go from strength to strength, especially with the money you get for staying in the Premier League. If that money can be spent on quality players then they can be a force to be reckoned with. Although it may take five or six years to get to the point where we are a well-established Premier League side.”

Gary Stevens: “If Brighton stay in the Premier League this season, then next year for the club would be purely about avoiding relegation again. I spent four years in the top flight with the club when they were last there 34 years ago – that shows how hard it is to get back up there. I think for sides like Brighton it is all about survival and maybe having one or two exceptional seasons for the supporters and everyone around the club to remember.”

Liz Costa: “It depends on how many players’ contracts they can renew over the summer and what we can get in terms of recruitment. Chris Hughton’s spending has been spot-on so far, though. One of the things we do not want to do is publicise who we are after. If he needs to find four or five people who can fill the gap then it will be tough. In fairness, we are never going to be in the top six and I don’t want us to be. A constantly mid-table team would be great.”


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