Some fans are writing obituaries about Brighton's season already but five points is about right - Scott McCarthy
The fixtures computer has been a cruel mistress to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Facing last season’s top four in the first seven games of the campaign was a ridiculously tough task, especially with two of those games away at the Premier League’s two clear title favourites.
Most level-headed Albion supporters would’ve predicted us to have around five points at this stage of the season. Home form is always going to be the key to Brighton’s survival and with only one “winnable” home game so far, one win and two draws seems about right for where we should be.
So, why are there a number of Brighton fans who aren’t happy about the season so far? Some are already writing the obituaries. Perhaps it is the fact that the one win has come against Manchester United, and the games that we might have seen as “winnable” at Watford, home to Fulham and away to Southampton have resulted in three pretty poor performances.
Perhaps it is because in both those Fulham and Southampton games, we’ve given the opposition a two-goal head start, giving ourselves a mountain to climb.
It might be because we signed £50m worth of players in the summer, yet only Martin Montoya has become a first team regular. Yves Bissouma is getting a run of games, but fortune has favoured him with Pascal Gross out injured.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh is yet to start and Florin Andone hasn’t been seen on the pitch. I’m starting to wonder if he isn’t actually a myth, like the ghost that is meant to appear in the back of your car if you drive over the Rocky Lane railway bridge between Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath at exactly midnight.
Or it might be because people have ideas above their stations. What are people basing this assumption that we should be top 10 material on? Signing a winger from a weak Dutch league which it is notoriously hard to know whether you’ve got a bargain (Luis Suarez) or a dud (Ricky van Wolfswinkel or, er, Jurgen Locadia) from, and an extremely promising but very raw midfielder from a French side who had concerns about his attitude.
As excited as everybody was about our business, in the cold light of day they aren’t signings guaranteed to push the Albion to the next level. They’re gambles that may or may not pay off. Last season’s captures of Gross, Davy Propper and Maty Ryan did - this year's may not.
Realistically, we’re still just trying to survive. The second season is notoriously harder than the first. That element of surprise a newly promoted team may have is gone, as is the thrill of being in the Premier League. It isn’t all shiny and new now, it’s a real war of attrition trying to avoid the bottom three.
At the moment, we’re on course to survive. Cardiff City are yet to win a game, Huddersfield Town already seem to have caught second season syndrome and Newcastle United are a basket case who will drop quicker than a stone when Rafa Benitez eventually walks away. There will be three worse teams than the Albion.
And so our season really does start now. A campaign isn’t defined by what you do against Manchester City, Spurs or Liverpool. It’s what you do against the sides around you – the likes of West Ham, Newcastle, Wolves, Everton and Cardiff.
They’re Brighton’s next five fixtures. We don’t face another of the big six until Chelsea in nine games time when Santa Claus will be prepping his sleigh. October, November and December will be when we find out just what this Brighton side has to offer, so let’s lay off the obituaries until then.
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