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21 December 2017

Gary Stevens playing for Albion in the 1983 FA Cup Final.

Former Brighton & Hove Albion defender Gary Stevens praised Chris Hughton for his influence at the club, and believes his former team-mate’s calm approach to management will be important for the Seagulls in the Premier League this season.

Stevens won the UEFA Cup alongside Hughton in 1984, and after learning what the Albion boss was like as a player, he expects the same from his good friend and former team-mate in the dugout on the south coast.

He said, “I think he’s done a fantastic job. He’s a really nice guy and was a terrific player at Spurs when I went there in 1983.

“He was obviously an established regular with Spurs and the Republic of Ireland. As a full-back, he was tenacious, quick, intelligent - and I think all of those things can apply to Chris as a manager and coach.

“Chris is calm, collected and very calculated. He doesn't get too emotional about it - so when you win, there isn't a big party, and when you lose, there isn't a funeral.

“It’s about being consistent - that’s stood Chris in great stead and will continue to stand him and Brighton in good stead as well.

“He’s also got a side to him that you don’t mess with, and I think you need that in management as well.”

Stevens stressed the importance of looking at the bigger picture, instead of making sharp judgements at moments throughout the season, as Albion look to sustain their stay in England’s top flight.

“One area of football that we go wrong in, is judging by the moment. So, if a team gets beaten, they’re no good. Somebody scores a goal, they’re a world-beater.

“It’s about the entire 38 games and you should never judge until you’ve completed the season. Too many people judge too quickly and too ferociously.

“I think Chris takes a medium, long-term view, and this is my opinion of how it should be as well.”

The battle for survival has tightened in recent weeks, with the Seagulls now just three points above the relegation zone, but Stevens believes Albion have the stability both on and off the pitch to beat the drop.

“The likely clubs to survive are the ones that are very stable behind the scenes, and Brighton, for me, are very stable as a club.

“West Ham have suddenly got some stability that David Moyes had brought to the club, and whether you like him as a manager or not, he’s brought that to the club.

“Huddersfield at the moments are sat in 11th, but if you look historically at the clubs that get promoted, the number that go down in their first season in the Premier League is reasonably high.

“They’re in mid-table at the moment but only six points above the drop zone, and that’s absolutely nothing.”

Stevens featured on the latest episode of Albion Unlimited on BBC Sussex with Tim Durrans, Warren Aspinall and Adrian Harms. Click here to listen to episode 13.

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