The Premier League season is currently in its final stretch, and Brighton & Hove Albion could achieve their highest league finish yet. This would be an astonishing accomplishment for the club. In the 2008/09 season, the team earned promotion from League 2 to League 1, which began the process that has led to their current success. We sat down with Paul Parker and John Barnes who shared their admiration for Brighton as a football club. The pair also discussed the impact of manager Roberto De Zebri as well as the futures of winger Kaoru Mitoma and striker Evan Ferguson.
Kaoru Mitoma’s breakthrough season
It has been a remarkable season for the wing wizard Kaoru Mitoma, who has already established himself as one of the most dangerous and exciting wingers in the league. The Japanese international has made 27 appearances in total, scoring 9 goals and providing 6 assists. He could still add to these impressive first-season statistics, with Brighton still in contention for a possible fourth-placed finish in the league, as well as an FA Cup Semi-Final against Manchester United to play. Mitoma has been linked with potential moves to Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal. Barnes believes that a move to Manchester City or Arsenal would only be a wise decision if Mitoma is guaranteed regular playing time.
“It would be great for him to move to Man City or Arsenal but only if he is going to play. Not if he is going to be on the bench. Every player would like a move to Real Madrid and Barcelona but it’s not a step up if you´re sitting on the bench.”
“From a club perspective Man United, Man City and Arsenal would be a step up but it’s not a step up if he is going to sit on the bench.”
“He has to ask himself if he can perform like this regularly and he should maybe focus on staying at Brighton for 2-3 years. He has only been here for one year but if he can continue to do that, then he can take the step up at the right time to one of the big clubs.”
“The problem is that you´re not guaranteed as a player that you can perform consistently for two or three years and that is the reason why a lot of players move after one year. They know that they might only get one chance to make a move to a big club.”
Solly March on the march away from Brighton?
Another Brighton winger who has caught the eye this season is 28-year-old Solly March. March joined Brighton & Hove Albion’s academy at the age of 16 and gradually progressed through the ranks, making his first-team debut in a League Cup match against Newport County in August 2013. Since then, he has become an integral part of the team, making over 200 appearances in all competitions for the club. He has proven to be invaluable to Brighton due to his tactical versatility, being able to play as a left or right winger, as well as a left or right wing-back. Under the guidance of De Zerbi, March has nailed down a spot on the right-hand side of Brighton’s attack and is flourishing under the Italian’s tutelage. Barnes believes that March is a player who could be ready for a move to one of the league’s bigger sides after showing consistency and knowledge of the Premier League.
“I’ve been really impressed with Solly March. He is working very hard and he played as a left wingback before and now he is doing a great job on that right hand side.”
“And he has actually shown consistency. He has performed well for a long time now, so he could actually take a step up to a bigger club now. He knows the league and he has been performing consistently for a long period of time.”
“But I’m sure that he is happy at Brighton. Maybe he doesn’t even want to move away? Maybe a step up to a bigger club wouldn’t even be a step up performance wise if Brighton finishes 4th or 5th.”
Evan Ferguson on the move or set to sign a new deal with Brighton?
Evan Ferguson is one of Brighton’s standout players this season and has garnered attention from both fans and pundits. According to reports, Brighton is set to offer the young striker a new contract to ward off interest from top Premier League clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea, who are all said to be keeping tabs on the Irish international. With seven goals and three assists in just 16 senior appearances this season, Ferguson has already made an impact for the Seagulls. Although he signed a new deal with the club in October of last year, there is still concern about his potential departure. Football pundit Paul Parker has praised Ferguson’s talent and bright future, but he also advises the striker to stay at Brighton to ensure regular playing time. Parker uses the example of Fabio Carvalho, who moved from Fulham to Liverpool but has struggled to get playing time under Jurgen Klopp.
“I really like Evan Ferguson as a player. He is a young lad who has done marvellous for Brighton. He plays for a good team and has an amazing coach that can help him develop a lot.”
“Brighton gives him the best opportunities to perform very well. They want to play him as a centre forward and use him as a link player, which is a rarity nowadays.”
“I’m very pleased that a young lad can break through in the Premier League… If you’re good enough, you’e old enough despite many people telling you the opposite. I hope he will continue playing that well.”
“He has a bright future ahead of him and he has an outstanding chance to do some amazing things with his career. He is a really good footballer, and yes, his stature makes you think that you can make a cross and then he will do something with it but he is a lot more than that. I’m really impressed with him.”
“I would definitely advise him to stay at Brighton. He will get a lot of opportunities to move to a big club in the future but he should be happy with playing for such a good team.”
“He shouldn’t make the same mistake as Fabio Carvalho at Liverpool. He could have played a lot of games at Fulham but he moved to Liverpool and I think he regrets it.”
“Evan Ferguson shouldn’t sit on the bench like Carvalho. He needs games so he can improve. It would be absolutely mad if he decides to leave already now.”
“Brighton also wants him to get success in his next club so he can make the club proud. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t have a pushy agent behind him.”
“Would I like him at Man United? He is definitely one to keep an eye on. He is one to watch but I would feel bad if he was to move already now and have that big pressure on him after such a short amount of time as a regular player.”
Brighton’s Roberto De Zebri disproofs Graeme Souness’ doubts
When the former Udinese manager Roberto De Zerbi was appointed, many questioned his knowledge of the Premier League. Among his most vocal critics was Graeme Souness, a former Liverpool midfielder turned pundit. Given the impressive work of his predecessor Graham Potter, following in his footsteps was always going to be a daunting task. However, De Zerbi has managed to get Brighton playing fluent, attractive football, which has been exceptional. He has brought out the best in his team and has left spectators awestruck. Although Souness was sceptical of De Zerbi, Barnes understands this scepticism but highlights that the current Premier League is vastly different from the one Souness played and managed in.
“I understand why Greame Souness said as he did. The league was different when he was a part of it and back then you would have to get used to the very psychical way of playing.”
“But the league is different now. Now, we don´t play any differently than what they do in Spain or Italy. Football is global and there are a lot of foreigners in every single country.”
“So, no progressive manager from Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal and so on would have any difficulties with coming to the Premier League nowadays.”