Brighton are Raising their Floor, not going Backwards

Brighton forum member Kalimantan Gull argues that Albion have not taken a backwards step during this campaign, instead the club has raised its floor.

It has been said that we have taken a step backwards this season. Although our team may not be quite as good as the historic 2022/23 vintage, clearly, and frustratingly, I believe that the club’s fundamentals are stronger, and hence we have not taken a step backwards.

All clubs, at any point in time, have a floor – the worst they could do – and a ceiling, the very best they can do.

As fans we are generally looking up at the ceiling – we want the club to do the very best it can each and every season. However, the job of the club’s management is to raise the floor as high as they possibly can, and to strive to keep pushing it up. Raising the club’s floor minimises the potential impact of a poor season and maintains the aspiration of reaching even greater heights.

While it may not sound sexy, it exemplifies solid management, a trait for which Brighton is consistently commended by impartial observers. Leicester’s ceiling was incredible – they won the Premier League, but it turned out their floor was relegation – and they quickly experienced that as well.

The Albion were close to the club’s ceiling last year – we all witnessed an amazing season. This year we’ve been closer to our floor.

The question is what if we had sold Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo, and lost Kaoru Mitoma and Solly March before the 2022/23 season? We almost certainly wouldn’t have finished sixth in the Premier League and could even have become embroiled in a relegation battle.

This season may feel disappointing to some fans but we are still, right now, in the top half of the table – something the club has only ever achieved twice before. The club’s floor has been pushed up to a decent level. Our club is stronger than it has ever been, so I reject the idea that we’ve taken a step backwards.

Rather than taking a step backwards, the club is fluctuating between its floor and ceiling. Last season we were closer to the ceiling, and this season nearer to the floor.

Albion has lost Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo, Deniz Undav and Robert Sanchez. Additionally, Adam Lallana is clearly nearing the end and Joel Veltman looks past his peak. But look who we’ve gained: Igor, Joao Pedro, Jan Paul van Hecke, Valentin Barco, Simon Adingra, Carlos Baleba and Bart Verbruggen. Jack Hinshelwood has appeared on the scene too! Young players Billy Gilmour, Evan Ferguson, Tariq Lamptey and Facundo Buonanotte all now have a full season under their belts and will be all the better for it.

It feels silly to say Albion have become over-reliant on a few players – that was more true of last season than this, where we’ve spread responsibility around a wider group of players. We have missed several stars for all or part of the campaign, but the rest have kept Albion comfortably in mid-table.

We didn’t get close to our ceiling this season because so much has gone against us, but the European adventure was tremendous fun, and we’ve never had to look anxiously over our shoulder at the relegation scrap. We also know we are capable of tooling up again next year, and the year after, because of the club’s buoyant finances.

To finish 13th, at worst, with the issues Albion have faced, is commendable. Albion are only home wins against Burnley, Sheffield United and Everton away from sitting in sixth, give or take a few goals. and would anyone honestly have bet against us doing exactly that if March, Mitoma, Enciso and Pedro had been available for more games? The margins in the Premier League are remarkably fine.

Onward and upward!

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