Chris Hughton is looking forward to facing his former club Birmingham City at the Amex this afternoon and believes the Blues have made tremendous progress this season.
The West Midlands side currently sit sixth in the Championship and Hughton was keen to praise the club’s progress under manager Gary Rowett.
He said, “I think they’re a surprise package. They certainly don’t have the finances that other clubs have and Gary has done a super job.
“He has had a lot of consistency with the team; they don’t change their personnel too often and that’s because he’s been successful.
“Things have swung a little bit for Birmingham; when Gary first arrived, they got some very good home results before having a blip.
“But they are certainly good away from home. They have got pace in attack with the two wide players and they have done very well.
“If you look at managers doing well and winning in the Championship, then Gary is certainly right up there with the best.”
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Albion will equal Queens Park Rangers’ record for the longest unbeaten start to a Championship season, should they avoid defeat to Rowett’s side, but Hughton is taking little notice of the statistics.
“A lot of people will look at QPR’s record and compare us to that, but it’s just about winning games.
“I’d like the record to last as long as possible, but we all know that it will be very difficult.
“If we can get a result on Saturday, it keeps us in the position that we are currently in or possibly even higher in the division.
“There is a group of very good teams behind us and we’ve got to make sure we get the three points on Saturday.”
Birmingham currently have the best away record in the division, with 17 points from their eight games on the road, and Hughton highlighted the potential factors in their success.
“Counter attacking football is being played by more clubs away from home, but it’s also about teams having more bravery.
“There are more sides that are looking for a win away from home and are setting up to achieve that.
“Traditionally, teams make sure that they’re tight away from home and their philosophy changes from stopping a defeat to nicking a win.
“This division is so tight that there are no easy games; games can be tougher at home than they are away from home.
“You need to have a team that is good enough to be competitive away from home and we have also shown that this season.”