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ONE YEAR ON: HUGHTON'S 2015

31 December 2015


Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton celebrates a year in the job today, having been appointed as manager on New Year's Eve 2014, here we reflect on his first 12 months at the helm.

The former Spurs and West Ham player took over an Albion side which had just moved out of the relegation places with a memorable 2-0 win at Fulham a few days earlier - but a team who were still in danger of the drop.



His first piece of business was to extend the loan stay of defender Greg Halford until the end of the season, and soon afterwards Beram Kayal arrived from Celtic - an astute piece of business. Leon Best was another January arrival, and Hughton also began to get the very best out of on-loan Liverpool midfielder Joao Teixeira.

The Portuguese playmaker dazzled under the lights against Ipswich Town, scoring two goals in an important 3-2 win, which made it four wins out of five for Albion across December and January.



Reward for victory in Hughton's first game, the third-round FA Cup tie at Brentford, was another visit from Arsene Wenger's Arsenal to the Amex; and like 2013, the scoreline was the same, 3-2 in the Gunners' favour.

Hughton gradually lifted Albion away from the danger zone, with an impressive run at the end of February and in early March which saw his team follow decent nil-nil draws at both Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday with three home wins in a row - against Birmingham, Leeds and then-leaders Derby.

Wins and goals were scarce in the final quarter of the season, but the 1-0 victory at Blackburn in March eased the pressure, and eventually it was Rovers' 2-0 win over Millwall in late April which secured Albion's Championship status.

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This allowed Hughton and the club to activate plans for a busy close season, which saw no few than nine first-team arrivals during the summer transfer window - and let five players go, while a number of loans returned to their parent clubs. Albion also welcomed back Sam Baldock, Dale Stephens and Andrew Crofts from long-term injuries.

An excellent pre-season period saw Albion lose just once, on the long trip north of the border to Aberdeen, and they also gave an indication of things to come when they beat Europa League winners Sevilla 1-0 at the Amex - just under a week prior to the season opener against Nottingham Forest.



A hard-earned, but well-deserved 1-0 win was an important start, but little did anyone realise it was the first of an astonishing 21-game run which ensured Hughton's side remain unbeaten until the week before Christmas.

The Seagulls started with four wins and a draw from their first five league games, which resulted in Hughton deservedly collecting the Manager of the Month Award for August, and Kazenga LuaLua won the Player of the Month Award.



The standout games in the first half of the season were the 3-2 win at Ipswich, as Tomer Hemed scord twice a 2-1 win at Leeds, with Bobby Zamora netting his first goal of his second spell; the 2-1 win over Bristol City a few days later, again courtesy of a Zamora winner; and the epic comeback against Charlton Athletic at the start of December.

The first defeat of the season came on 19th December, as leaders Middlesbrough triumphed at the Amex, and Albion closed the year with a draw at Brentford and an undeserved defeat at home to Ipswich - and while Hughton is never one to use excuses, injuries have severely impacted his selectional options in recent weeks.



Hughton, a meticulous planner, always well prepared and backed by the club's recruitment team, goes into the transfer window with both Liam Ridgewell and Richie Towell set to sign for the club on 2nd January, and LuaLua and Baldock on the edge of a return to match action.

What 2016 holds remains to be seen, but on New Year's Eve, Seagulls fans can look forward to next year with a renewed vigour and a real sense of excitement, with the club in a much better position than 12 months ago - and many will be sure to raise a glass to Hughton's excellent first year at the club.

UPCOMING HOME FIXTURES

ALBION V WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

FRIDAY 1ST JANUARY, KICK-OFF 3PM


ALBION V HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

SATURDAY 23RD JANUARY, KICK-OFF 3PM



ALBION V BRENTFORD

FRIDAY 5TH FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 7.45PM


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