The Albion manager is targetting another challenge near the top of the table.
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton feels his side are ready for another promotion assault - but has warned his squad the challenge ahead will be even greater, with the likes of Newcastle United and Aston Villa competing in the Championship.
Albion agonisingly missed out on a top-two finish last season and Hughton believes the quality in the Championship will only increase heading into this season.
He told Seagulls Player HD of his initial aim for the season ahead, “We want to be challenging at the top end of the table.
“It is so competitive, particularly when you look at the magnitude of the teams that have come down; they all want to do business and they all want to go straight back up again.
“We want to be up there challenging for those top two positions and try to have the best season that we can. But we know that the competition, if anything, is stronger this season.
“The plus from the season just passed is that the players we have here now know it’s a good place to be, and if we can perform anywhere near what we did last season, then we can be up there challenging again.”
Hughton says his side will have to deal with added scrutiny this season following the success of last year, but must rise to the challenge.
“The reality is that circumstances have changed; we are in a different position at this moment than we were last summer, when we were on the back of a season where we finished 20th in the division.
“We know that the expectations of the supporters and our own expectations will be bigger and greater than this time last season.
“Those are the things you have to accept and enjoy that type of pressure because it won’t only be us, it will be any of that group of teams who finished in the favourable positions. You have to expect that type of pressure and they have to enjoy it.”
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The Seagulls boss assessed the challenge posed by his former clubs Newcastle United and Norwich City and Aston Villa, and is relishing the prospect of facing two Champions League winning managers in Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez.
“They are two clubs [Newcastle and Aston Villa] who will desperately try to go up again. Norwich managed to do that and Newcastle managed to do that a few years ago, and you can see in the market that Newcastle have acquired two top players already.
“I think they’re buying very well for this Championship. It’s always good to go back to your old clubs and I enjoyed my time at both of them, but more important than that is the result, because that’s my number one priority.
“We found that certainly over the last few years, the number of Championship managers losing their jobs has become greater than ever before, and that just shows the pressure on the Championship clubs.
“What we have also found is that the level and experience of the manager now coming into the Championship is higher than it’s ever been. That has made the competition greater, and as a manager you’ve got to look forward to that and welcome the challenges.”