Published on 11 May 2024 at 13:00

Brighton have become the epitome of a well-run football club in recent seasons, with an ascending status in the Premier League and financially rich transfer strategy. 2022-23, signalled European qualification for the first time in the Seagulls history after a top six finish and despite Chelsea poaching manager Graham Potter they ended the campaign with a newfound optimism for their next chapter. 

The addition of the Europa League to their calendar this season, always threatened to disrupt their increasing domestic rise due to a increased congestion fixture list, squad rotation and fatigue. Former English debutant such as Burnley, Everton and West Ham have all suffered weight of a European voyage but for Brighton fans under Tony Bloom's well-oiled ownership their was a confidence the club could juggle both.



In the summer, Roberto De Zerbi was hailed as one of the most promising young managers in football linked with Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool. After his appointment in October 2022, he guided Brighton to 14 out of their 18 league wins including a double over Chelsea as well as huge wins against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

He adopted Graham Potter's attacking 5-3-2 formation, and enhanced it with his Italian flair and meticulous detail. They scored the fourth highest number of goals (72) in the league and received praise from De Zerbi's idolised mentor Pep Guardiola as one of the most entertaining sides to watch.

Just under a year later, the spotlight is on De Zerbi questioning his ability after an underwhelming season at the Amex Stadium in which the Seagulls are in eleventh. Since the new year, Brighton have shown relegation form with four wins in 11 league games including a six game winless streak which ended last weekend with a much needed victory over Aston Villa.

While, many envious football fans look at Brighton who overachieved last season and have now returned back to the shackles of mid-table and think what have you got to complain about for Brighton fans this season has been concerning. This is an ambitious and forward-thinking club who saw breaching the top six as a platform to achieve even greater heights.

Their European adventure was euphoric, completing a famous double over European royalty Ajax and topping a group of 'death' in which they were seen as underdogs. However, their shining form in the group stage was quickly put out in the Round of 16 where they were out-classed over two legs by a resurgent AS Roma side.

Again, it would be naïve to expect Brighton to lift the Europa League, but based on their form last season and West Ham's recent European fairy-tale their was a belief inside that this special club could go all the way. 



One of the key strengths of Brighton's recent rise has been their transfer strategy. They've acquired an ability to keep a conveyor-belt of talent flowing into the club while also convincing the European big boys to pay over the odds for their stars... Chelsea. cough. Cough.

This summer, Robert Sanchez and Moises Caicedo joined Chelsea for a combined £131m with last season's talisman Alexis Mac Allister joining Liverpool in a cut-price £36m deal.

In typical Brighton-fashion they spent a minimal £63m on future gems including football manager favourite Valentin Barco from Bocca Juniors and promising teenager Carlos Baleba from Lille.

It does feel as though, possibly this transfer philosophy held them back this season though. Mac Allister scored 12 goals and had 3 assists last season from midfield and Caicedo was the central pivot to De Zerbi's system and it feels like this summer they needed to sign higher quality players to replace these two significant departures.

The eye-catching transfer of former Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati on loan hasn't ended up being what either party expected making just three league starts all season and scoring four goals in all competitions. This has been one of the prominent problems for De Zerbi this season a consistent lack of goals, with too many missed chances.

For a team with the fifth highest touches in the opposition box (1063), they have a low expected goals XG of 53.5 and they have averaged 5.7 shots per game but only have a shot conversion of 10.3%.

New signing Joao Pedro has had an impressive first season on the South Coast scoring 20 goals in 38 games in all competitions but he has only nine in the league and the second highest scorer in absent wonderkid Evan Ferguson who last scored a goal against Nottingham Forest on November 25th.

They have scored 25 goals in 2024, but when you consider 10 goals were against relegated Sheffield United and four in the FA Cup against Championship Stoke City its worrying statistics.

In their first six league games of the season they had five wins and sat at the precipice of the table and two thirds of their wins in the Premier League came before the new year. It has been evident that their form has progressively deteriorated since Christmas and it looks like they've gradually ran out of steam.


Brighton face a side who have suffered similar jetlag with European football this season in Newcastle United this weekend. De Zerbi will hope to add to an impressive win against Aston Villa and end the season strongly even though it appears another season in Europe has eluded them.

It's unknown what seismic changes will occur this summer, with manager De Zerbi the most probably casualty but what is clear is that they do need to invest if they want to come back firing next season.

This isn't the last you will see of the Seagulls in Europe, this club's trajectory is only upwards and despite this hiccup in which their project has been delayed this year expect to see them up their in the future.


Written by Lewis Eadie

Add comment


There are no comments yet.