• Can Potter Lead Albion Back to Premier League Mid-table

    When Aston Villa beat Derby County, or Frank Lampard’s Derby County to give them their full name, to clinch promotion to the Premier League, the top flight line-up for 2019/20 was complete.

    Villa join Norwich City and Sheffield United who upset many of the Championship’s bid spenders in securing automatic promotion to the land of milk, honey and regular thrashings at the hands of the big six (and, sometimes, AFC Bournemouth).

    At the half-way mark of the last campaign, Albion had performed so well that the words “Brighton” and “relegation” weren’t appearing together anywhere at all. In any of the numerous round-ups that took a look at who was likely to be flushed back down to the Football League, Chris Hughton’s side were notable only by their absence.

    Under Hughton’s pragmatic leadership, Albion had elevated themselves to that most sought-after of statuses: mid-table mediocrity. Albion only had to see out the second half of the campaign, picking up a few points from a series of easy-by-Premier-League-standards home games and look forward to a third straight season playing with the big boys.

    Things are rarely dull aboard the good ship Brighton & Hove Albion and as mediocrity largely took hold on the pitch, Albion’s all-but-safe status began to come under threat.

    The history book shows a torrid series of results that included six consecutive league games without a goal, with the low-light being the back-to-back home defeats to Plucky Bournemouth and Cardiff by an aggregate score of 7-0. As Albion fans made their way home from the Amex after the Cardiff defeat in mid-April, relegation had become a horrifying prospect.

    Fortunately for Albion, that was about as good it got for Cardiff who lost their following three games, consigning them to an immediate return to the Championship. Albion had survived, just, and could look forward to making amends in 2019/20.

    The dismal run had all proved too much for chairman Tony Bloom however, who immediately despatched with the services of nicest-man-in-football Chris Hughton, making the Albion pantomime villains of the football world - a slightly unusual position for a club that is so often praised for the way it operates.

    Swansea’s Graham Potter was immediately installed as the favourite with the bookies to succeed Hughton, and it didn’t take long for Albion to promise enough silver to the financially-strapped Swans. Potter and his backroom team signed on the dotted line and began checking out properties in the BN postcode on Rightmove.

    Will Potter be able to turn things around on the South coast? The bookies are not so sure. It’s no great surprise to see Sheffield United being heavily tipped as relegation probables - the Blades are odds on for the drop, with Norwich City second favourites at around evens.

    From there the bookies only really see three other sides likely to be in the relegation dog-fight, with Burnley, Aston Villa and the Albion all similarly priced at around 2/1 - 5/2. Away from these bottom five sides the betting markets then jump in odds to the likes of Southampton, Bournemouth, Watford, Newcastle and Palace.

    A glance at the spread betting markets shows that all three promoted sides are being priced to pick up between 35 and 39 points, which indicates that should Albion repeat the 36 points accrued last season then relegation may await the Seagulls.

    The stakes are certainly high for the club’s new manager stepping into his first Premier League job, and Albion fans will be hoping that Potter has the magic touch, and is able to lead the club back towards the Premier League’s dull-yet-priceless mid-table.
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