Why Brighton Should Be More Concerned About Dreaded ‘Second Season Syndrome’ Than Their Rivals

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At the start of this season, Brighton were one of the favourites to face the drop as many predicted a quick return to the Championship for the south coast outfit. 

All credit must go to the job of Chris Hughton and his players, as they stayed up with some degree of comfort in the end.

Arriving in the Premier League is often a daunting task, only twice before this season have all three promoted teams survived. Of those that survived their first campaign, a further ten sides were relegated in the following season.

So statistically the odds on all three staying up again next year are slim, Newcastle showed enough towards the second half of the season to suggest they can maintain a mid-table finish.

Both Brighton and Huddersfield are certain to face another relegation scrap though next season and it’s the former who should be most concerned about the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’.

Newly promoted Cardiff are likely to struggle next season but the ambitious project over at Wolves (backed by Jorge Mendes) looks set to continue to spend big and take the league by storm. With Aston Villa and Fulham in the play-off final, both of whom have a wealth of recent Premier League experience and managers likely to successfully build in the summer.

Southampton are also likely to invest heavily under the soon to be appointed Mark Hughes, another manager with a wealth of experience. That should lead the Saints clear of trouble and both Brighton and Huddersfield will find it difficult to compete with the budgets of other fellow strugglers like West Ham and Bournemouth.

It puts the Terriers and the Seagulls in prime position to potentially fill the other two relegation spots and Brighton could have the hardest job of surviving. 

For starters, their approach is a lot more expansive than Huddersfield’s, which can produce good football but is easier to pull apart.

They are less likely to grind out results against the top teams and will be relying largely on their home form against their immediate rivals. They’re also more likely to face significant departures in summer as certain players have outshone their rivals.

Pascal Gross has drawn many suitors with seven goals and eight assists this season and could be tempted by a move Premier League rivals. Likewise, Glenn Murray whose twelve goals were instrumental in his clubs survival.

His age may be a concern for some but Leicester are the only side outside the top six to have a player score more goals than Murray this season, so he could provide some much needed extra firepower at any of the other 13 clubs.

Chris Hughton has been involved in doomed campaigns before, although he has come out with some credit. Hughton had spells as caretaker at Newcastle as they were relegated for the first time and was also relieved of his duties during a season in which Norwich went down.

Brighton are being linked with some potentially exciting attacking talent but Hughton risks being too ambitious in a bid to build on this season. With so many rivals looking to improve beyond Brighton, an inability to grind out results could see them playing catch up from very early on next season.

Other clubs will be fully aware of the challenges Brighton will throw up next season like so many forward-thinking new boys before them. Hughton will likely find a second campaign much harder than the first, which was already a season where Brighton narrowly survived.

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