The first target is to try and achieve something better than last year
Burnley play Brighton & Hove Albion tomorrow and the two managers have been speaking ahead of the first game between the two clubs since April 2016.
Chris Hughton won promotion with Brighton last season but his team have just had a short, difficult run of results. Asked if it was a crisis, he said : “It’s not, because we’re a newly promoted team. In some aspects, we went through a good period, better than what most people would have expected.
“We’re amongst a group of teams that are also not in good form. We’re the newer ones in this division, gaining experience as we go along. That doesn’t mean it’s something we’re happy with. We’re very conscious of what the facts are and that we’ve got to start picking up points and scoring goals. We’re now approaching two home games and they’re both very big games for us.
“These are the challenges that we’ll consistently have this season. You’re going to have two or three difficult periods in the season. Whenever you lose a game or have a difficult period, it means there is more pressure on the next game, and consequently more pressure on the one after that. It’s the team that rises to those challenges the most, over a period of time, that end up in a more comfortable league position.”
Turning his attentions to Burnley and our manager, he said: “Sean has developed so well over the last few seasons. They gave him an opportunity to rebuild again, and they’ve gone from strength to strength.
“Credit to Burnley in a period where they went down first time around from the Premier League to the Championship. They’ve had to work hard with the players that they’ve got, have a structure that they believe in and recruit very wisely in their windows.
“In an era where we want to see as many British managers involved in the game as possible, it’s good to see one doing as well as Sean is.”
He added: “In the same way that we speak about Manchester City and how brilliant they’ve been this season, for different reasons, Burnley have been exceptional. You’ve only got to look at the group of players and their rise over the last couple of seasons. They don’t change the team so often.
“For the club to be riding as high as they are now, with the finances and infrastructure they have, looking consistent every game, it speaks highly for everyone concerned at Burnley.”
Speaking to the local press this week about the club’s progress, he said: “The first target is to try and achieve something better than last year in terms of the team developing, that’s the main judgement.
“I think we’re finding it a good mixture of both. The players are reality bound, we know it’s an ongoing challenge. It is to be enjoyed. The main thing was to progress. The first marker is can you beat last year’s total. Historically that gives you every chance but it also shows signs of improving. It’s important to me. Year on year progress is a good sign.”
He was jokingly asked if, because of Manchester City’s form, whether we were playing for second place. “We’re playing for Brighton, don’t worry about that,” was his response, and he said they would not be going swaggering into the Amex Stadium.
“I don’t know about swagger but I think there’s more assuredness,” he added. “We have a healthy respect for the opposition but that goes out of the window when the whistle goes. I don’t think we’re swaggering into place, that’s for people at the top end who’ve been in it for longer.
“There’s a more at ease mentality, you go into these stadiums with a bit more about you. It’s growing but needs to be looked after. Football can be a fragile business.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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