Roberto De Zerbi is celebrating one year in charge of Brighton (Nick Potts/PA)
The eyebrows that were raised when Brighton replaced Graham Potter with Roberto De Zerbi have been put firmly in their place over the last 12 months.
It was on September 18 a year ago, only 10 days after Potter’s departure for Chelsea, that the Seagulls announced their new boss would be a little-known Italian.
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom had identified De Zerbi as his next managerial target some time before after being impressed by his work in Italy with Benevento and Sassuolo, which then continued when he moved to Shakhtar Donetsk.
A post shared by Brighton & Hove Albion FC (@officialbhafc)
Arriving at Brighton with little English and big boots to fill, it was perhaps not surprising it was seen as a risky move but the only question now is how long the Seagulls will be able to hang onto him.
De Zerbi did not win any of his first five games in charge but thumped Potter’s Chelsea 4-1 for his maiden victory and did not look back.
Premier League highlights included the double over Chelsea and wins over Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal while they also beat Liverpool during a run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup that only ended with a penalty shoot-out loss to United.
Brighton eventually finished sixth, securing European football for the first time in the club’s history with a place in the Europa League.
And they have picked up where they left off this season, winning four of their opening five matches, including back-to-back 3-1 wins over Newcastle and Manchester United.
Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo both left Brighton this summer (Adam Davy/PA)
That is despite again selling a number of their star performers, with Moises CaicedoRead on belfasttelegraph.co.uk