Brighton: So far so good, but are play-offs a realistic view?

December 4, 2013 in Championship by William Kent

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Despite last night’s 2-1 loss to bottom of the league Barnsley, a result that ended Brighton’s unbeaten run of six games, many fans are now asking if the Seagulls can repeat last year’s success of reaching the play-offs and possibly taking it one step further by securing promotion.

After a rocky start to the season, losing their first three fixtures, Oscar Garcia’s men have managed to pull themselves off the floor and into some decent form, with them now sitting comfortably with only three points from the play-offs. Four of the next seven fixtures are against teams who are in the lower end of the table; maximum points are needed in these games as the last couple of weeks of January includes especially tricky fixtures with Burnley, Leeds and Derby. The Christmas period will go a long way in deciding Brighton’s season, in my opinion.

Could Brighton fans see their team compete in the Premier League next season? Credit: premierskills.britishcouncil.org

Could Brighton fans see their team compete in the Premier League next season? Credit: premierskills.britishcouncil.org

Out of the entire 24-team league, only six teams have scored less goals than Brighton. Injuries to Craig Mackail-Smith and Leonardo Ulloa have definitely hindered the goals scored tally, having to rely on Ashley Barnes for goals - not something which particularly inspires me with belief. Barnes has potential to be a great striker, but he often goes missing in games, with Saturday’s away game at Bournemouth being a great example - a fantastic goal, but was pretty poor otherwise. This problem scoring goals is highlighted by centre midfielder, Andrew Crofts, being joint top scorer with Barnes on just five goals. I don’t believe Leroy Lita is the solution either, with some pretty dismal form at recent clubs netting just 12 times in his last 47 games. The quicker Ulloa gets back fit, the better.

The sooner Argentine striker Leo Ulloa gets fit, the better for Brighton. Credit: sqmagazine.co.uk

The sooner Argentine striker Leo Ulloa gets fit, the better for Brighton. Credit: sqmagazine.co.uk

The squad itself is good enough to gain promotion, with old Premier League players such as Tomasz Kuszczak, Andrea Orlandi and Matthew Upson, along with many other players which have origins in the top flight as well, such as Kazenga LuaLua and Liam Bridcutt. I’m in strong belief that Brighton have one of the best squads in the league, but just don’t have the know-how which some others may have - this could turn out to be the deciding factor. Oscar Garcia is still a novice in comparison to other managers such as Billy Davies at Nottingham Forest - two clubs with similar aspirations of gaining promotion, yet Davies is far more equipped to achieve it.

Oscar Garcia: Still too much of a managerial novice to guide Brighton into the Premier League? Credit: sqmagazine.co.uk

Oscar Garcia: Still too much of a managerial novice to guide Brighton into the Premier League? Credit: sqmagazine.co.uk

However, the league is very much for the taking - any team is capable of beating anyone. Just 13 points separate Yeovil, who are in the relegation zone, from Derby, who currently sit in the play-offs. It’s a tough league to get out of despite it being so open. Consistency is key; if you can put a run together and make solid home form, any team has a chance. Brighton definitely have the players to gain promotion, but I’m not convinced they have the experience or consistency - something that people argue is more important than talent with a ball at the feet in the Championship. The Seagulls will definitely be in the mix for promotion come May if they keep key players fit, but I think at least this season is needed before promotion is a realistic possibility in the near future.

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