Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
When Chris Hughton brought Brighton into the Premier League, no one expected them to still be in there by the time the next season rolled around and yet here we are. A 15th-place finish later and the Seagulls are going into the new season as a Premier League side.
Much of this is down to the capacity of Hughton to build a team that is greater than the sum of his parts. But the ability to be a good manager is about more than just making do with what you have; you must also be able to build an outfit that can adapt to the ever-changing environment of the league you find yourself in.
In this regard, Hughton has also impressed, bringing in a number of signings who improve his squad but who didn’t break the bank.
Here’s four reasons why Brighton have won the summer transfer window:
1 They haven't lost anyone
For many of the clubs lower down in the Premier League, survival in the league would usually see better players moved on into bigger clubs. This hasn't happened for Brighton.
There have been a couple of players heading out of the door of the AMEX Arena this summer. But none of them have been key players for the Seagulls.
Sam Baldock has dropped down a division into Paul Clement's Reading team and Connor Goldson has headed further north to participate in Steven Gerrard's Ibrox experiment. Beyond that, there has been a retirement from Liam Rosenior and Steve Sidwell has been released.
Hughton, then, has had the building blocks to work with to strengthen his side with a number of key signings here and there.
2 They've found value in smaller markets around Europe
Before the World Cup you may not have heard of Leon Balogun or Alireza Jahanbakhsh. After the World Cup you most likely still haven't heard of Florin Andone, Bernardo and Yves Bissouma.
All of these players have joined Brighton from smaller markets around Europe, allowing the South Coast side to pick up value for money in countries as far-flung as Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Of course, there is always a risk to these sorts of approaches. But as scouting networks are increased and the impact of statistical analysis gradually increases, these sorts of signings are less fraught.
Take Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Last season, he finished top scorer in the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar, carrying them to the final of the KNVB Cup.
After an uneventful World Cup - in which he did not fit into Carlos Queiroz's tactical approach - Brighton were able to swoop in and bring him to the AMEX for a fee thought to be in the region of €19 million.
While this is a club record, a good season with Brighton for Jahanbakhsh and it could look like quite the transfer.
3 They've brought in youth and experience
Looking through the list of players into the club, Hughton has added youth and experience to his side.
At 24, Jahanbakhsh is not old. Neither is Yves Bissouma at 21 or Bernardo at 23.
At the other end of the spectrum, Florin Andone, brought into the club from Deportivo La Coruna, is 25 and Leon Balogun, most recently of Mainz, is 30.
This is a nice mix of youngsters able to be blooded and older heads with the experience to benefit their new side.
4 They have bolstered following last season's blueprint
It's easy for managers to bring in new players to appease the fans. Even the arrival of a new face can be enough to calm an anxious fanbase - just ask Spurs fans.
However, Hughton hasn't just bought for the sake of buying: he's bought to develop his system and take it to the next level.
Last season, Brighton played some combination of a back four, a five-man midfield and a lone striker in Glenn Murray. Regardless of how they set up - 4-1-4-1, 4-2-2-2 or 4-4-1-1 - the team were deployed in a similar system with tweaks here or there depending on the opponent.
The new signings will all find a place for themselves in this system. With Murray shouldering the pressure up front for much of the season, Florin Andone will offer another option.
Yves Bissouma will rotate with Pascal Gross, giving Hughton a different approach to the number ten spot and again taking pressure of the player already there.
Jahanbakhsh will offer competition for Anthony Knockaert. Bernardo can slot into the left back position. Leon Balogun will give a third centre back option alongside Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk.
Nothing will need to be changed then and Brighton's system looks much the stronger after the summer.
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