Johnny Cantor: The next two months could determine Brighton's Premier League fate
A few weeks ago a friend asked me as I interview the manager so much pre and post-match, how do I think of new things to ask. Well of course it's not easy.
However, football is in continuous flux and there always seems to be something to talk about, on and off the pitch.
Obviously the transfer window may dominate the headlines over the next few weeks but Brighton and Hove Albion may not be able to rely on the impact of new recruits.
The manager, and the players for that matter, are often asked if the next run or batch of games is key. There are only three Premier League matches before the window shuts (one hour after the end of the Southampton match) but those games and the three league games in February could determine the Seagulls’ fate. Five of those six are against sides currently below them in the table and after failing to beat Southampton, Everton, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth at the Amex, the pressure will be on for the home fixtures.
West Ham and Swansea both visit Sussex and I don’t think it’s unfair to say they are ‘must-win’.
New arrivals may hit the ground running but it is easier for those who move to a club in the summer as they have time to acclimatise. Transfers in January may well be up to speed by March and April but games against Manchester City, Liverpool Spurs and Arsenal present a challenge no matter who you have in your squad.
The signs have been promising. Chris Hughton has admitted his team have played well in spells and have often created enough chances to win games, but they haven’t always got what they deserved.
The sky may be clouded at the moment by the FA Cup and Albion’s involvement in the testing of the new VAR technology next week but the priority remains the same. Survival.
Hughton has done a wonderful job and the Seagulls’ lofty position of 12th (at the time of writing) is impressive bearing in mind what is at his disposal.
The need for goals is well-documented but I think it is fair to say some clubs will have enough cash to strengthen enough to move clear. The Seagulls remain just three points off the drop and just eight points separate the bottom half of the table.
Draws against some of these sides in the next two months won’t be enough in my view and Albion will need victories. To win a game you need to score goals. After the Newcastle game I asked Chris about the final piece of the jigsaw, in front of goal. He knows what they need. We all know.
I also asked him if he had any New Year resolutions? He answered that they just need to do the same in the second half of the season as the first and that will be enough. That’s one question that can be asked every year I guess.
Across the rest of the year there are still plenty of questions to be posed, not just to the manager. However, I think the answer to the question of whether they will survive may well come in the next two months rather than in May.