Brighton & Hove Albion will reflect on the 2022/23 season as the finest in the club’s history. The Seagulls headed into the final five games of the Premier League season with the prospect of qualifying for Europe for the first time.
When Graham Potter left after six games of the season to become Chelsea’s head coach the club appointed former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk coach Roberto De Zerbi, and after a period of adjustment the team’s fortunes have been on an upward curve.
Wins over the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as a club Premier League record 6-0 victory against Wolves in early May propelled Albion into a European place.
De Zerbi hasn’t just relied on the tried and tested in his squad, with striker Evan Ferguson getting first-team action after progressing through the academy, while teenagers Julio Enciso and Facundo Buonanotte have also been given regular opportunities.
Academy graduate Odel Offiah was handed his Premier League against Nottingham Forest in April, playing in a team that already included fans’ favourites Lewis Dunk and Solly March, who also came through the club’s youth pathway.
Despite the disappointment of losing the FA Cup semi-final to Manchester United on penalties, it is still hard to believe that 26 years ago it needed a draw in the final game of the season to stop the club dropping out of the Football League.
Playing in exile at Gillingham and then in a converted athletics stadium at Withdean were trying times but since Tony Bloom was appointed chairman in 2009 the club has enjoyed a meteoric rise.
Promotion to the Championship in 2011 came in the same year as the club moved into the American Express Community Stadium.
They played in the second tier until 2017 before winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 1983. After consolidating their place in the for three seasons Albion obtained their best points with 51 in the 2021-22 campaign, a total they have already beaten this season with five games to go.