Brighton did not do enough in the 2016 summer transfer window to push for promotion
Now the 2016 summer transfer window has slammed shut, Brighton fans should look back at it with positive thoughts.
In came club-record signing Shane Duffy, returning striker Glenn Murray, Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood and the experienced Steve Sidwell.
However, there was no signing of the sought after second striker/number ten, while the left-back area also looks weak as Gaetan Bong continues to struggle to find his form from the beginning of last season.
Last season, the Seagulls lost out on automatic promotion on goal difference to Middlesbrough and then lost to Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off semi-final.
To go one better this season and reach the English top-flight for the first time since 1983, you’d have to say that Brighton haven’t done enough in the window to do this.
In Murray and Tomer Hemed, you have two incredibly similar strikers who are both lacking in pace.
Sam Baldock compliments them well, playing just off the shoulder of either of them, and pucks up good positions which enable him to run at the defence – but even his most ardent supporter will have to accept that his goalscoring record is poor.
Ideally you would want the striking options to be as competitive as the central defending options, as Brighton now have four top class centre-backs in Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Conor Goldson and Uwe Hunemeier.
At left-back, Bong looks suspect defensively as he struggles to build a relationship with regular left midfielder Jiri Skalak.
A major key to Brighton’s excellent 21-game unbeaten start to last season was the former Wigan Athletic player’s understanding with Kazenga LuaLua – who won the league’s Player of the Month award for August 2015.
Brighton’s major problem is that despite their good business, the league has improved greatly with the addition of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Norwich City from the Premier League.
Norwich showed their strength to steal Alex Pritchard from under the noses of the Albion in a £9m deal, while Newcastle have spent over £50m and Villa have broken the Championship transfer record with a £15m deal for Bristol City striker Jonathan Kodija.
Clearly; with their parachute payments, and in the case of Villa, super rich owners, Brighton cannot compete financially.
The strength in depth shown by these clubs, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday isn’t rivalled by Brighton.
The Seagulls squad contains too many similar types of midfielders and a lack of any real spark to come off the bench.
For the Albion to improve on last season, they will need to pick up a second striker and left-back and hope they can keep hold of the current squad in January.
This may however prove difficult with Dale Stephens making it clear that he wants to leave the club, after handing in a transfer request on deadline day.
Out of contract next summer, as is the same with Beram Kayal, the club will do very well to keep either of them until the end of the season.
This particularly applies for Stephens, as the last bid rejected by the Albion from Premier League newcomers Burnley was over the £8m mark.
For now, it feels as though it will be play-offs at best for Chris Hughton’s side, which would be their fourth appearance in five seasons.