Gary Lineker was full of praise for the job Chris Hughton has done with Brighton & Hove Albion during his time in charge so far, as he spoke exclusively to Seagulls TV on Tuesday.
The former player and now Match of the Day presenter visited the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre to speak to the Albion boss for BBC’s Match of the Day Premier League show, and took the time to reflect on the work Hughton had done during his time on the south coast.
He said, “He’s done a fantastic job during his time at the club so far. When he took over they were in the bottom three of the Championship and he turned it around and got them up.
“Then he masterminded their survival in their first Premier League season last term, and you can’t ask for more than that.
“He’s a very good manager and a good guy, I’ve known him for a long time and we overlapped at Tottenham Hotspur for a year or two as well - he’s had a great career and he’s doing a fabulous job here – knowing him as I do, I know players will want to play for him, that’s important in the modern age of management.
“He’s also very well-organised and an experienced coach in general, before he went into senior management, it’s an important wealth of experience.”
The Seagulls have accumulated five points from their six Premier League matches of the 2018/19 campaign so far, and the former England international reflected positively on how the side have fared this season.
“The win over Manchester United obviously stands out and on the whole they’ve made a good start.
“Once they get past Manchester City this weekend, they will have played four of last season's top six and if you can still be out of the drop zone at that point, you can be pleased.
“You’ll then have fixtures ahead that are more realistically winnable and games where you can judge where the team are.”
Having achieved a 15th-placed finish in their debut season in the division last term, much is often made of the second campaign that follows, but Lineker dispelled the notion that Hughton’s men would find it more challenging.
“The statistics show that the idea of the second season in the league being harder for a club are a bit of a myth.
“I don’t see complacency with Brighton because they have an amazing home support. How they fare this season will once again depend on that home form, because it has been so strong.
“They’re a well-organised side with good individual players and I think they’ll be fine – some of the other clubs who have come up have spent a lot of money in comparison, so that gives them a greater chance of survival.”
The side’s top scorer this term has been forward Glenn Murray, and the 35-year-old has already found the net five times this season – as a former striker himself, Lineker praised the talents of the Albion frontman.
“He’s done brilliantly to come through the divisions and he just keeps on scoring.
“He’s wily and his movement is very good as well – he has good experience and knowhow, and long may it continue.
“He’s up at the top end of the list for English goal scorers over the last few years and he’s defying time in many ways.”