Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton is looking forward to welcoming his players back for pre-season today, as the countdown to Manchester City’s visit to the Amex on Saturday 12th August begins.
The first-team squad return to work for two days of testing and screening, and Hughton explained how the players’ individual programmes over the summer will come to fruition.
He said, “The first couple of days are a reflection of what they’ve done in the summer.
“What you find these days is that players generally come back in good shape, and certainly not too many are overweight or haven’t stuck to their programmes.
“Pre-seasons will never change. Essentially, it’s about getting their fitness right. We have a wonderful friendly game at the end against Atletico Madrid, which looks like it could be a sell-out.
“There won’t be too many sell-outs in friendlies a week before the season starts. That’s the buzz around the place, but the importance of pre-season is to make sure that we’re in the best possible shape come the Man City game.”
Hughton looked ahead to that Premier League opener, and how it will be an even sweeter occasion following the club’s promotion pushes in recent years.
“This is what we’ve been aiming for. I can only speak during my time here, which is the last two seasons, but the club was pushing to achieve this in the two seasons before that too.
“When the Man City game was announced, you thought ‘they don’t get any harder than that’ and then what hit home was the excitement of that first game, particularly for the supporters.
“If you ever wanted an introduction into the Premier League, then there it is.”
The Seagulls boss is also relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against some of the most high-profile managers in world football, starting with Pep Guardiola.
“As a manager and a coach, you’re aspiring to be the best that you can - and that means applying your trade at the next level. We all know what the Premier League is now and the quality of players and managers in it.
“It’s a great feeling to be among that kind of company. We’re very aware of how tough it will be, because generally when you’re playing against these top-class managers, they’re managing top-class teams and have got top-class players.
“That makes things more difficult. They’re the wonderful challenges you have, and if you can’t look forward to those challenges, then you shouldn’t be here.”