Steve Bailey: The question on everyone's lips is can Albion stay up?
The dream of reaching the Premier League has been fulfilled and now the big question on everyone's lips is: Can the Albion stay there?
It’s been 34 years since the Seagulls last played in the top flight of English football and it’s been some rollercoaster ride since.
From the dark days of almost going out of the Football League 20 years ago, Albion have climbed the leagues and no one will forget last year’s promotion-winning campaign.
Excitement is quickly building ahead of the season-opener against Manchester City on Saturday. Just looking at the names in the City line-up – Aguero, De Bruyne, Silva, Toure, Sterling -–shows Albion will come up against some of the best players in the world this season.
It is what Albion fans have wanted for a long time and there has been a steely determination and focus in the Brighton squad this pre-season, many of whom will be playing at this level for the first time. They want to prove everyone wrong who says the team will go straight back down.
There’s no point hiding behind the fact that Albion will, most likely, lose more than they win this season. There will be tough days and, no doubt, heavy defeats at times. However, the squad has proved time and time again in the past two seasons they have the character to bounce back.
This time last year, many fans thought the previous season was the big chance to reach the Premier League.
There was such disappointment the Seagulls had missed out on promotion only on goal difference.
The play-off semi-final defeat to Sheffield Wednesday that followed was tough to take and it took a few weeks for Albion fans to get over it; however the club started preparing for the new season the following day.
The squad maybe took a few more days to get over the heartbreak but by the start of last season, it had been forgotten about.
There was a new focus. Bouncing back and achieving their goal. Getting Brighton to the Premier League. The result? Albion were in the top two from October onwards and sealed promotion with three games to spare.
This season, the players have the opportunity to provide more memories that will last a lifetime – not only for themselves but for all Albion fans and the club as a whole.
Who will the first win come against? Who will score the club’s first goal in the Premier League? Will Albion beat one of the big teams and be all over the back pages of every national newspaper and the first game on Match Of The Day?
In Chris Hughton, Albion have an experienced manager who will not get too high or low whatever happens. Add that to the team spirit and character at the club and I believe the squad will have enough to stay in the top flight – and hopefully build on it in years to come.
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