Albion in Seventh Heaven

Seven years after sealing promotion to the Premier League, Brighton can look forward to a eighth consecutive season in the top flight.

What with the moaning from some Albion fans after another frustrating draw with bloody Burnley, a landmark was missed by many. With Albion’s point and Luton losing, Albion became mathematically safe from relegation and assured of an eighth consecutive season of Premier League football.

Brighton Fan Discussion:  Seven years ago today 17.4.2017 Promotion to the Premier League

It was just seven short years ago that Albion clinched promotion to the Premier League. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? And boy has it been fun. Well, for the most part at least…

Over the course of those seven years, Albion fans have progressed from an initial state of “enjoy it, because this may not last long” through that notoriously difficult second season (with a bonus Wembley Cup Final appearance) and, then, a similarly tricky third season before the club really found their Premier League feet.

Chris Hughton, who had steered the club into the top flight, oversaw those first two seasons where Premier League survival alone was, quite rightly, the aim. And survive we did, first finishing 15th and then 17th – just above the dreaded dotted line.

Survival wasn’t enough for Tony Bloom and no sooner had the 2018/19 season concluded, than Chris Hughton was relieved of his duties, in an axing that shocked the Albion fanbase.

Away from the club, critics pondered if little Brighton were getting above their station. Chris Hughton had done a fantastic job keeping the club in the Premier League, they said – “just where do Brighton think they should be finishing?”

Graham Potter soon entered the building and immediately got to work with his evolution of Albion’s playing style. Under Potter Albion finished 15th and then 16th – nearly identical to Hughton’s Albion, but there were signs that times – they were a-changin’.

In Graham Potter’s second season in charge, Albion scored more goals (40), and conceded fewer (46) than in any of the preceding three seasons, and the 41 points accrued also matched the previous best.

That 2020/21 campaign laid the groundwork for what was to come, as Albion really started to make their mark on the Premier League. In Graham Potter’s third season, Albion’s fifth since returning to the top flight, the Seagulls were to finish higher in the English footballing pyramid than ever before in the club’s history.

Ninth place was achieved as the season ended with a flourish. Potter’s men picked up five wins in the final seven fixtures, including back-to-back wins at the North London big boys, before a rousing 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United at the Amex, which had the great Cristiano Ronaldo shaking his head in utter disbelief.

Season six would see the second managerial change of Albion’s Premier League era, although Potter remained as the campaign got underway and Albion got off to a flyer. An opening day win at Old Trafford set the tone as Albion picked up 13 points from their opening six fixtures. We dared to dream. Just where was this going to lead?

After Albion humbled Leicester 5-2 at the Amex, Graham Potter was drawn to the millions of pounds bright lights of west London. The enigmatic Roberto De Zerbi flew into England, stepped into the Amex hot seat and the best was yet to come.

De Zerbi picked up Potterball and took it to a whole new level as Brighton became media darlings for their scintillating and daring style of football. If Albion hadn’t already smashed through Gus Poyet’s glass ceiling long before May 2023, they certainly did with the sixth-placed finish and the promise of European football to follow.

We’d certainly come a long, long way together…

Brighton’s Premier League progression

Now, as we approach the finale of Season 7 of “Brighton’s Great Premier League Adventure”, and with Season 8 just announced, one can’t help but wonder what the script-writers have in store for Albion fans.

One thing is for certain, it won’t be dull and I can’t bloody wait!

Images courtesy of Reuters