Hold fire on that meltdown – Brighton are not having a disappointing season

It seems to me that last year’s achievements may have made some Albion fans presume that we automatically belong in the highest echelons of European football and that Albion fans are being let down by every disappointing result, so in response to the recent spate of woe is us/sack everyone threads, here’s a little context.

Last season’s 6th place was the best finish in the club’s history.  21/22’s 9th was the second best, third was 13th in 1981/82.  We’re currently 10th and 13 points ahead of the team in 14th.  It seems safe to say that this will probably at least equal the third-best league finish we’ve ever achieved. We’ve done this whilst playing in Europe for the first time and we topped our group. 

We still currently have a positive goal difference.  For context, last season was the only top-flight campaign in the club’s existence where we finished a season with a positive goal difference.

This is the squad from last year’s FA Cup semi-final, along with details of how it’s changed this year and the player’s availability this term.  To give a fuller picture I’ve added some of last year’s squad who were not available for that game.  The availability detail is not to provide excuses, but to show the various challenges the squad has faced whilst getting to where we are this year.

NameStill in Squad?ReplacementAvailability
GrossYesPlayed 44 matches in 22/23. With internationals has played 45 this year with 7 games to go
Injured in November missed 10 matches – played only 6 since then and only once for the full 90
Played 42 matches in 22/23. Has played 41 this year with 7 games to go
EstupinanYesMissed 15 matches October to January
Mac AllisterGoneBalebaOkay
MarchYesInjured in October – out for the season
EncisoYesMeniscus tear in second game of the season – missed 30 games and hasn’t yet played 90 minutes all year.
MitomaYesOut for three games before international absence. Back injury in February – Out for the season
WelbeckYesMissed 11 Matches October to December
UndavLoanedPedroMissed 9 games in Feb/March
AyariGoneMilnerMissed 17 games through injury. Hasn’t played since January
GilmourYesMissed the last 6 games through injury
van HeckeYesAlready played 37 matches this season. 5 more than he has played in any previous full season
VeltmanYesMissed 8 games Dec-Feb
BuonanotteYesAlready played over double the minutes he played last season
OffiahSent on loan. Returned due to illnessHinshelwoodInjured in Feb – Out for the season
FergusonYesCurrently injured.
TrossardWent in January 2023AdingraMissed a few games with a hamstring injury just before the ANC
SarmientoLoanedFatiMissed 13 games Dec-Feb

We are the only team in the top 10 that is not also in the top ten of the division’s largest salaries: https://www.spotrac.com/epl/payroll/

Over the last five seasons the rest of the top ten have transfer balances that range from a loss of €367.96m (West Ham) to a loss of €909.58m (Chelsea).  In the same period we have made a profit of €12.66m.  We’re the only team to have made a transfer profit over that period and remain in the Premier League.

None of this implies that fans can’t be frustrated when our form is bad, or worried that it’s not going to click again.  None of this excuses poor performances and our coaching team wouldn’t let it.  However, it’s provided as a gentle reminder that our success is against the odds.  It’s always going to be an uphill battle. 

There will always be knockbacks and they’ll often be frequent. We’re always going to be raided by richer opponents.  We’re always going to need periods of renewal whilst younger players bed in and improve.  Our upward trajectory in the face of these disadvantages has been against the odds, and is more likely to end than to sustain.

We’re on an incredible ride and this rollercoaster will have a lot of dips along with the incredible peaks.  When we experience the dips, logic suggests that it’s better to all stay in the car and trust that there may be a peak coming than to throw stuff at the ride controller, or call for him to sack the engineer.

Sorry this is so long: if anybody wants the abridged version:-

Amongst the excitement, we’ve suffered a bit this year, but we’ve faced it together and if we stick together, we will be stronger for it in the future.  We will never have an automatic right to three points against anybody in this league.  Stop these silly threads.  If Palace were doing them on their forum, we’d be massively amused at the sheer hubris.

This article is taken from a North Stand Chat thread. If you have a view, opinion or insight to share with other Albion fans, please get in touch – we’re only just getting started and would love to hear from you!

Images courtesy of Reuters