A string of three draws offered some grounding to Brighton & Hove Albion fans, after a lightning start to the season saw the seagulls soar to the Championship summit. As the final whistle blew at the American Express Community Stadium just under a fortnight ago, sighs of frustration echoed around the ground as yet another two points slipped from Brighton’s clutch.
Despite remaining in pole position, the focus swiftly changed from celebrating the team’s unexpected climb to the top, into analysing the league table with regret and irritation. It’s hard to understand any feeling of discontent amongst fans, when the current situation is compared to the dismal displays they were disappointed with on a regular basis last season. After finishing just outside of the relegation zone, how on earth can there be any mixed feelings towards being the only unbeaten club in England, whilst sitting top of the table midway through October?
It represents a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the football club. Consecutive years of play-off heartache may have been the motivation behind last season’s dramatic downfall. However after saving the club from relegation and a summer of all-round construction, Chris Hughton has the club back on track and heading in the right direction. Despite the reversal of riches, it’s important to keep both feet on the ground and possess realistic expectations for a team that won only ten games during their previous campaign. For the record, that’s only four more wins than the current squad have accumulated in their opening ten games this season. After the 1-1 draw with Cardiff City, a well earned two week break came at the perfect time for Hughton’s team, before they return to action against Leeds United at Elland Road this Saturday.
It has allowed everybody connected with the club, the chance to take a deep breath after a fantastic, yet frantic start to the season. It brought closure to a frustrating trio of games, in which many supporters feel six points had been dropped. As the Albion missed a penalty, conceded a stoppage time equaliser and outplayed their most recent opponents without full reward. Any negative thoughts will have been removed during the fortnight break, as Hughton’s men aim to return to winning ways and extend their lead at the top of the table, in Yorkshire this weekend.
As they say, the table never lies, and in all honesty Brighton’s stunning start to the season has got them exactly what they deserve, as the fans begin to believe.