Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton insists that the biggest challenge facing his side in the new calendar year will be to avoid complacency.
The Seagulls enter 2019 sitting in 13th position in the top flight with 25 points accumulated from their matches so far – but the boss emphasised the importance of maintaining those standards ahead of Wednesday evening’s game with West Ham United at the London Stadium.
He said, “The biggest challenge is always complacency – in every game we played in this division we are faced with tough opposition and that’s a reminder each week that if we don’t reach a level we can get punished.
“That’s always there for us, we’re still in our second season in this division and our aim is to maintain our status in the league and develop and grow as a club.
“We’ve worked very hard to be where we are now, and we have to be respectful that every single game we play is a difficult one – there’ll be bigger and more experienced teams than us that will find it difficult – there’s reminders every week in this league about that.”
“My feeling is that we have to continue in the same mentality, the gap between ourselves and the bottom three will always be the most important thing for quite some time to develop as a team.”
Monday marked four years since Hughton took charge on the south coast, a time in which the boss has taken Albion from the bottom three of the second tier to the top flight, and he reflected fondly on his time at the helm so far.
“We’ve made good progress during my time here and our objective when I arrived was to be where we are now in the Premier League.
“We’ve built that in this period of time – we have to be delighted with that but it’s also about the progress of this football club as a whole and I think we’re in a far better place in this moment than when I came.
“A lot is down to the support I’ve had from the owner, the board and the staff I have, along with the recruitment during my time here.
“It’s impossible to make any sort of progress unless you have the right people around you and behind you – the support I’ve had has been tremendous and at the moment we’re in a good place.”
The last two matches have seen the Seagulls draw with Arsenal and defeat Everton in two impressive displays on home soil, and Hughton stressed the significance that those types of results can have on the confidence of his men.
“The pleasing thing for me after our last two games at home is the fact that we’ve played against two very good teams and come away with four points.
“Our performances were something I was very pleased with – we know we didn’t start well on Boxing Day against Arsenal, but then for the last 60 minutes or so we did far better.
“There has to be something wrong if you can’t take those types of performances into the next games – each contest will be tough, and we won’t be able to reach those levels every week – sometimes it’s just about getting a result, but I’m pleased at the moment.”