Date: 11th July 2016 at 9:14am
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With Brighton missing out on automatic promotion by the narrowest of margins and then missing out on Play Off promotion, manager Chris Hughton has said clearly the aim for the coming 2016/17 Championship campaign is to go one step further – and aim to secure that automatic spot.

Speaking to the Official Site with pre season plans firmly set and training well under way, Hughton said that whilst going up automatically had to be our aim – there would need to be perspective given the sides that join us at this level this year – namely his former club Newcastle United, and Aston Villa. Norwich won’t be walkovers either you would imagine.

‘We want to be challenging at the top end of the table. It is so competitive, particularly when you look at the magnitude of the teams that have come down; they all want to do business and they all want to go straight back up again. We want to be up there challenging for those top two positions and try to have the best season that we can. But we know that the competition, if anything, is stronger this season. The plus from the season just passed is that the players we have here now know it`s a good place to be, and if we can perform anywhere near what we did last season, then we can be up there challenging again.’

One thing that Hughton knows we’ll have to deal with this season is increased expectations and the added scrutiny given the almost promotion achieved last year – but simply put the players have to deal with that and rise to those expectations if we are to achieve what we want to.

‘The reality is that circumstances have changed; we are in a different position at this moment than we were last summer, when we were on the back of a season where we finished 20th in the division. We know that the expectations of the supporters and our own expectations will be bigger and greater than this time last season. Those are the things you have to accept and enjoy that type of pressure because it won`t only be us, it will be any of that group of teams who finished in the favourable positions. You have to expect that type of pressure and they have to enjoy it.’

As for the arrival of Rafa Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo to the Championship with their respective clubs, both are Champions League winning managers, and Hughton knows that raises the stakes.

‘They are two clubs who will desperately try to go up again. Norwich managed to do that and Newcastle managed to do that a few years ago, and you can see in the market that Newcastle have acquired two top players already. I think they`re buying very well for this Championship. It`s always good to go back to your old clubs and I enjoyed my time at both of them, but more important than that is the result, because that`s my number one priority.’

Adding.

‘We found that certainly over the last few years, the number of Championship managers losing their jobs has become greater than ever before, and that just shows the pressure on the Championship clubs. What we have also found is that the level and experience of the manager now coming into the Championship is higher than it`s ever been. That has made the competition greater, and as a manager you`ve got to look forward to that and welcome the challenges.’

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