Understandably, many feared the worst for Brighton and Hove Albion when their manager Graham Potter departed for the bright lights of west London.

That all the latest football bet tips have Potter down as the next Premier League coach to leave his post is an altogether other story. 

Because for the Seagulls, his leaving last September potentially spelt disaster, Potter being the chief architect behind the club’s rise to the upper echelons of the top-flight.

Granted, it was Chris Hughton who brought Brighton up and established the south coast side among the big boys.

Potter though took them to the next level, freeing them of relegation concerns and last season breaking an unfancied collective into the top ten. 

Admired for their possession-based fare and tactical flexibility, Brighton’s footballing identity was inherently tied to their manager’s footballing identity and when five members of the backroom staff also upped stick for the capital alarm bells began to ring at the Amex.

Would gravity now take hold, curtailing a highly promising campaign that saw Brighton rack up four wins and a draw from their opening six fixtures?

In the event, this has not transpired, and if anything, remarkably, the Seagulls have only improved, even if their league placing is now more realistically pitched on the outer fringes of the European spots.

Successfully reconfigured as a 4-2-3-1, in recent months theirs has been a gold standard of possession-football that seeks to advance full-backs and control the central ground via clusters of clever movement and short passes.

Up front meanwhile, attackers have been afforded greater freedom and this has elicited a series of fantastic performances from the likes of Kaoru Mitoma and Solly March.

The latter incidentally, has been so consistently good, he should by rights be included in the Premier League Player of the Year odds come May.

All told, Brighton have bewitched and befuddled opponents, leading to thrashings of Chelsea and Liverpool and gaining notable results elsewhere.

They’re entertaining to watch, and any fears they may regress after Potter’s departure have been comprehensively dispelled.

And all of this is due to one man and one man only. Step forward, Roberto De Zerbi.

It is telling that the Italian’s appointment last autumn prompted a raft of articles explaining who he is, even if seasoned viewers of Serie A insisted it was a shrewd move, having seen his Sassuolo side consecutively finish eighth on the peninsula, playing with the same style we’re slowly becoming accustomed to over here. 

To the majority of us however, it was just another relatively unknown continental coach, arriving with decent credentials. We’ve seen them come. We’ve seen them leave, often damned as failures.

Fast forward to the present though, and the narrative has dramatically changed, with the often engaging, sometimes outspoken De Zerbi fast carving out a reputation as a seriously astute coach.

He has a clear vision and the ability to out-manoeuvre esteemed peers on a weekly basis, all while getting elite levels from players not generally considered elite. 

Coaches of such stature are decidedly thin on the ground.

With the Italian at the helm, Brighton’s future looks secure and exceedingly bright and the only concern at this juncture is that history repeats itself.

Because if Chelsea swoop anytime soon, hoping that some of his magic transfers to the Bridge, it would be a cruel twist of fate indeed.



Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.