Brighton's excellent season deserves huge respect as Di Zerbi leads the seagulls to European football - Premier League Season Review
|Brighton players celebrate after a routine win in the premier league. (Photo credit: Premierleague.com)|
When the new owners at Chelsea fired their Champions League-winning manager Thomas Tuchel, Brighton, in their wildest imagination, wouldn’t have expected what was to come for a lot of reasons, but in hindsight, it played out just fine for them.
Roberto Di Zerbi was a victim of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the Italian was managing Shaktar Donetsk, but the league had to be suspended in the wake of heavy bombshells and bloodshed.
The same impacted Chelsea Football Club as Roman Abramovic had to give way; the following events would go down as a Hollywood thriller.
Brighton got the mail from Stamford Bridge; their impressive manager was needed to step into the vacant dugout as Chelsea manager.
The Seagulls weren’t going to stand in Graham Potter’s way, but there were fears his departure could derail their season.
Brighton was doing well under Potter; the club was mixing it with the big boys and expertly dismissing Leicester before the call for Potter came.
Expectations across the board were that Chelsea was going on a project and Brighton was expected to struggle; the opposite is the case.
Di Zerbi took the Brighton job and hit the ground running.
There was no win in his first three games, but he held Liverpool to a 3-3 draw inspired by a Leandro Trossard hat trick on his debut, and the Belgian went on to score the next two goals of the Di Zerbi era before wins started showing up.
Brighton soon became that team you didn’t want to play. Beyond their quality on the pitch, the club hierarchy got a lot right in terms of recruitment, and there’s a reason everyone wants to cherry-pick the Seagulls this summer.
The emergence of players like Moises Caicedo, Kaoru Mitoma, Alexis Mac Allister, and Pervis Estupinian built on the quality of club captain Lewis Dunk, playmaker and occasional right back Pascal Gross, and the experienced Danny Welbeck, who also has Duncan Ferguson pushing him.
Like every opinionated manager in world football, Di Zerbi made strong calls in important areas, and many watched on to see how it would pan out.
Robert Sanchez was dropped in goal for a more ball-playing Jason Steele, while Trossard was binned for the likes of Dennis Undav.
Arsenal soon came for the Belgian forward, but the Gunners didn’t stop there. Caicedo was hoping the bids from Arsenal would be accepted, but Brighton stood firm.
He wasn’t for sale was the song the seagulls kept singing, and they didn’t change the beat.
The winter window slammed shut, and the Ecuadorian was reinstated into the first team after being benched for a couple of games while the transfer saga rumbled on.
In hindsight, it was too late in the window for them to get a replacement, a classic example of a thinking club.
Brighton shocked many with strong performances since Di Zerbi took over.
From beating Potter’s Chelsea mercilessly to imposing their playing style on teams and scoring important goals, the Seagulls became a team you wanted to watch.
Finishing sixth wasn’t on the cards way back in August, but the club can do great business in the summer and enjoy their days in Europe.
How they juggle Europa League duties with league games is left to be seen, but with this club, correct decisions are what you expect.
Season verdict: B+
A: Excellent season
B+: Very good and successful season
B: Very good season
C: Average season
D: Poor season
E: Bad season
F: Failed season