First, let’s get the schadenfreude celebrating out of the way. Courtesy of Man U’s 1-0 loss to the Seagulls, it’s now all but impossible for those devils to finish above us. Yes, they can match us on points, but we’d have to lose every last match while they win all of theirs while also overcoming our vastly superior goal difference. What’s more, Brighton, with two matches in hand, have overtaken Tottenham, sending those spuds down to seventh.
Let’s spend a minute to celebrate what would be a historic achievement for Brighton, free of any self-serving, cynical considerations. Should the Seagulls finish in the top sixth, it would surely mark a highwater mark for a club that has never won top-flight honours—no FA Cups, no League Cups, nothing. The most they can boast of is a few lower division titles, but nothing shinier than a League One title way back in 2011. At a risk of denigrating the lower leagues, finishing in the top six of the Prem might just shine just a bit brighter. Imagine: Brighton in the Europa League ahead of Tottenham and Chelsea. Madness!
Back to the cynical considerations. As already noted, it’s now almost impossible for Man U to overtake us. We’re now all but guaranteed nothing less than a third place finish. While that may feel like thin gruel to those who had come to demand, insist, and fulminate for nothing less than first, it’s still significant progress, and progress well-worth celebrating. Benefitting from Brighton’s largesse might feel like a bit of sloppy seconds, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We can’t all of us waltz our way to the top of the Prem without benefitting from other’s wobbles.
What’s more, they’ve also had to cope with losing (to varying degrees of, uh, lamentability(?)) White, Trossard, Cucurella, Bissouma, Maupay, and Burn, to name just a few. Even if they’ve been well-compensated for each player, it can be exceedingly difficult to find like-for-like value when the best you can offer is a mid-table finish in the Prem. I have to say that it’s glorious to see Brighton climbing so high, all the more to see them doing so at the expense of larger clubs that can splash the cash on tranfer fees and wages.
As to the longer term, Brighton’s rise almost certainly seals off any moves for their more-desirables. We’ve already poached White and Trossard; any move for the likes of Caicedo, Mac Allister, or anyone else is probably dead in the water. Why sell off your key assets when they’re coming into their own, when the squad is coalescing and climbing ever higher? We may have to turn our attention elsewhere.
One last peripheral benefit? As Brighton climb ever higher, it gets less and less likely that de Zerbi would ever consider taking the wheel over at Tottenham. Why should he? He got sent off after a fiery exchange during a match at Topspur Stadium back in April. What’s more, why would a capable, ambitious manager like de Zerbi want to trade his delicious doorstop for their crummy old danish? Maybe it’s the other way around?
As we continue our quest to win the Prem for the first time since 2004, it’s comforting, even gratifying, to watch as other clubs scrabble and claw for the crumbs we let drop from the top of the table. Brighton, however, seem cut from different cloth. They don’t have a massive budget or many marquee players. I hope that none of us this feels like a back-handed compliment to any Brighton supporters who somehow find this blog. I genuinely want them to succeed, even as I admit to enjoying some of the aforementioned ancillary benefits. COYS has a nicer ring to it when the S stands for Seagulls rather than for, well, other clubs whose nicknames start with the same letter.
Just so we’re clear, I’m referring to the “official” nickname for Tottenham and not at all to any childish, scurrilous, scatological nicknames. This is, after all, a family-friendly blog.