Is Chris Hughton the Premiership’s most underrated manager?
Chris Hughton has for some time been recognised as one of the top English managers around and proved it by taking Brighton into the Premier League for the first time.
Touted as potential whipping boys, the Seagulls have performed admirably and, despite their poor form against the top six, should have more than enough to secure their top-flight status for another season.
Home form has been key to their success this term, with the Amex faithful fully on board the Hughton project and acting like a 12th man at times on the south coast.
But is it really a surprise that the 59-year-old has been able to make Brighton competitive in England`s top division?
He was harshly sacked by Newcastle after taking them back up to the Premier League, with players and pundits alike condemning Magpies` owner Mike Ashley for his actions after Hughton had won 39 of his 70 games in charge for a 55% win rate.
That is a strike rate that most managers would be proud of and he is currently operating at 46% with Brighton.
Pep Guardiola will probably win the manager of the year award but there is a case that Hughton should be under consideration as he continues to defy the odds and has, as ever, carried himself with dignity and class throughout.
It was always going to be tough for the likes of Brighton and Huddersfield coming up to the Premier League and the pair were tipped for immediate relegation but, while both are yet to secure safety, the fact they are even in contention to survive is a credit to their respective managers.
Hughton has managed to get the best out of his squad and made them tough to beat, with only 40 goals conceded to date – one less than Arsenal – and won the manager of the month award for February.
It is true that they struggle to score but when you have a solid rearguard, sometimes one is all you need for the three points.
The former Republic of Ireland full-back is popular with the players and that is in no small part to his mantra for success.
He has always put the emphasis on making sure that training sessions are well run, disciplined and productive which, he feels, creates the right environment for success, and there is no question that his sides are always well drilled are know their jobs.
It would have been easy for Albion to get a bit ‘giddy` when reaching the promised land after so many years in the lower leagues, but the calmness with which they have gone about their business this season reflects the manager`s personality.
Never one to get too flustered, he has kept his players focused and, even on winless runs of six and seven games, made sure nobody started panicking.
Brighton are unlikely ever to win the Premier League but victory for the club will be to stay there year on year and, with Hughton at the helm, they have every chance of achieving that aim.
tough to beat