Saturday, March 28, 2020
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Chris Hughton remains defiant but Brighton seem paralysed by pressure

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Chris Hughton and Neil Warnock are fighting to stop the remainder relegation place. Photograph: James Boardman/TPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Hughton is well aware of the shortcomings, and also of the familiar criticisms being flung his way through the sidelines: the accusations of tactical inflexibility and murmurings that, for many he has achieved over four years, the gamers might no longer be responding. He suffered a similarly untimely slump at Norwich in 2019, winning twice in 11 games on the same time all seasons, and was sacked before a frightening five-match run-in. Norwich subsided using a whimper regardless.

Brighton remain horribly reliant on Murray’s goals, and, at 35, he has got looked broken down and isolated recently. He has three goals since the beginning of December, and Brighton didn’t scored within the league for seven weeks. A reduction in bite wasn’t quite so critical as they definitely remained stingy in the dust, they employ a solitary clean sheet in 12 league games, with Dunk and Shane Duffy not the sources of strength they were in the past. These still flings himself into blocks and tackles but must wonder whether that commitment is now being replicated elsewhere.

The hierarchy at Brighton, on the owner, Tony Bloom, for the deputy chairman, Paul Barber, by way of the technical director, Dan Ashworth, remain supportive, and there’s no suggestion Hughton’s future will be discussed through to the summer at least. Most fans bellowed defiant support for the interval in the hope of stirring a comeback. That it was only when that failed to materialise that frustration gave way to boos.

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Hughton always suspected frequently . a troublesome campaign. He or she is partly the victim of raised expectations. Had Brighton begun with eight points from 13 games, a tally similar to those scraped by Burnley, Southampton or Palace, then recovered this way trio then your panic would have been contained. Instead, their campaign may be played out back. Whether there may be scope for Hughton to vary things – the switch from 4-4-1-1 to 4-3-3, forced by Gross’s absence, will not be a hit – is prepared to take debate with the resources at his disposal.

Brighton are enduring what a great number of clubs within their size expertise in the elite when forays on the transfer market, always a raffle on their own budget, don’t yield immediate dividends. They have scoured foreign markets for players of potential. Gross’s signing had been a masterstroke but 3m successes are rare. Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the record signing at 17m having won the Dutch Eredivisie’s golden boot last season, has failed to obtain the net. Jrgen Locadia, 14m from PSV, has three goals in 30 top-flight appearances, while Florin Andone also has needed time.

Ashworth, who arrived at February, will influence future recruitment but, in the meantime, Hughton must rely on the normal suspects to secure safety. A year ago, they did this against Manchester United. Now, at Molineux, this team desire a repeat.

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