Belief in Youth Is the Underrated Facet of Graham Potter’s Brighton Revolution
When folks discuss Graham Potter’s overhaul of Brighton & Hove Albion, the main focus tends to be on the fashion of soccer, the strategy taken to video games and the tactical flexibility that the previous Swansea Metropolis boss has introduced since arriving on the Amex 16 months in the past.
However that is not all he affords.
Granted, although, Brighton are a world away from the facet they have been beneath Chris Hughton within the Premier League.
Hughton by no means strayed removed from 4-4-1-1 or 4-3-3. His beginning line ups have been so predictable that any scouts despatched to report again on Brighton might have nipped to the Palace Pier for the day as a substitute of watching the soccer and nonetheless delivered an correct report on who performed and what they did.
The strategy was at all times maintain a clear sheet and try to nick a purpose, usually through Glenn Murray. Hughton’s facet have been labelled as boring. In actuality, they have been pragmatic. Hughton’s job was to safe high flight survival and his technique did that, similtaneously delivering a memorable run to the FA Cup semi finals for less than the second time in Brighton historical past.
Hughton’s drawback got here when Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom determined he wished extra. If the Seagulls have been to ascertain themselves as a high 10 Premier League membership as Bloom has publicly said is the ambition, then they might not merely grind out 1-0 wins and 0-0 attracts. They wanted to go and win video games taking part in a model of soccer extra consistent with the fashionable day high flight.
Bloom didn’t really feel Hughton might ship that and so he made a daring change, firing one of the vital profitable Brighton bosses ever in favour of a person who had only one season of administration in England beneath his belt. Potter arrived with a status for attacking soccer, innovation and tactical flexibility – ticking all of the bins that Bloom was searching for.
There was one different facet of Potter’s CV which regularly will get neglected when folks discuss why Brighton appointed him – and arguably it has led to essentially the most spectacular facet of all the revolution that has taken place in Good Previous Sussex by the Sea: Potter’s perception in youth.
Below Hughton, the typical age of Brighton’s beginning XI and squad was on the older finish of the Premier League scale. Even within the Championship, Hughton didn’t belief younger gamers to return in and ship.
In his 4 and a half years in cost, simply two academy merchandise got league debuts by Hughton. James Tilley was handed a token 60 seconds from the bench in a lifeless rubber on the ultimate day of the 2014/15 season as Brighton drew 0-0 at Middlesbrough. 18 months later and Rob Hunt performed for 17 minutes rather than the injured Bruno because the Seagulls gained 1-0 away at Burton Albion.
Hughton afforded homegrown Brighton gamers a grand whole of 18 minutes of league soccer. Between Solly March making his debut beneath Oscar Garcia at the beginning of the 2013/14 and Steve Alzate and Aaron Connolly’s breakthrough final season beneath Potter, no academy merchandise had established themselves as first crew regulars at Brighton. Six years of nothing popping out of a youth system which had obtained vital funding.
In addition to paying simply shy of £100m out of his personal pocket to construct the Amex Stadium, Bloom additionally ploughed £30m into constructing a cutting-edge coaching facility 11 miles west alongside the A27 at Lancing. Opened in 2014, the aim of the American Specific Elite Soccer Efficiency Centre was to offer Brighton Class A academy standing and produce homegrown gamers ok in order that sooner or later, Brighton didn’t have to depend on Bloom’s cheque ebook.
This after all solely labored if Brighton had a primary crew supervisor who was keen to offer these younger gamers within the improvement squad an opportunity. Hughton was by no means more likely to be that man; even when Connolly was topping the scoring charts in Premier League 2 in 2018/19, he nonetheless refused to strive the Irishman in senior soccer regardless of Brighton’s over reliance on Murray.
Potter’s strategy to youth couldn’t be extra totally different. He handed Connolly and Alzate league debuts early into the 2019/20 season and each at the moment are established full internationals for the Republic of Eire and Colombia respectively.
Ben White was despatched to Leeds United with the very clear intention of a season within the Championship making ready him for a crack on the Premier League which has labored out superbly.
Ready within the wings you’ve got Jayson Molumby, who starred on mortgage at Millwall final season. He may very well be in line for alternatives ought to Dale Stephens full a rumoured transfer to Burnley, as might Swedish striker Viktor Gyokeres if Brighton don’t handle to signal a centre ahead – with Connolly and Neal Maupay the one first crew strikers on the books.
With Solly March and Lewis Dunk each homegrown gamers, Potter might fairly feasibly subject a beginning XI containing seven academy merchandise within the not too distant future. For a membership who went six years and not using a single participant breaking by from their improvement squad, that may be a exceptional turnaround.
The dedication to youth doesn’t cease there. Tariq Lamptey was the headline maker in Brighton’s 3-0 win at Newcastle United and he appears to be like destined for the highest. You need to doubt whether or not Hughton would have sanctioned the acquisition of an 19-year-old proper again, not to mention thrown him straight into the Premier League bear pit as Potter has achieved.
Yves Bissouma price £15m in the summertime of 2018 and performed semi-regularly beneath Hughton, one of many few younger gamers that the previous supervisor did truly belief. Bissouma has simply turned 24, not that you’d realize it from the more and more mature performances he has given since establishing himself as one of many first names on the crew sheet post-lockdown. Maupay is identical age with Leandro Trossard and Adam Webster a 12 months older at 25.
Towards Newcastle, Brighton fielded their youngest ever beginning XI in a Premier League recreation with a mean age of 24.4. No participant was aged over 30. The Seagulls’ oldest warhorse was Lewis Dunk, an historical 28. The distinction with Hughton’s Brighton facet couldn’t be extra marked.
Most of those Brighton gamers are two to 3 years away from their peak. Given the efficiency they delivered to destroy Newcastle on their very own patch and that they outplayed Chelsea for big elements of the opening recreation of the season, think about how good this crew shall be if Potter can maintain them collectively over the course of the following few seasons.
That could be a very large if, after all. Lamptey and White are positive to draw suitors from the large six earlier than lengthy and it might not be a shock to see the likes of Alzate, Bissouma and Trossard observe in the event that they constantly flip in showings just like the one we noticed at St James’ Park.
For now a minimum of, all of them stay Seagulls gamers. Such a proficient, younger squad is creating an actual buzz round Brighton for the time being and it will likely be fascinating to see the place they go from right here; can they ship week in, week out, or have the final two video games been a flash within the pan?
Regardless of the final result, Potter’s youthful revolution of Brighton & Hove Albion will proceed to be thrilling to look at. And it deserves a whole lot of reward.
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