The break in play between seasons is usually the igniting spark preceding thousands of articles detailing EXACTLY who your club is going to sign, how much they are going to be paid p/week and how large the dent is to your chairman’s back pocket. Of course, they ultimately all sign for that team you (and Carlos Tevez) have never heard of over in China.
For the first team to be promoted to the Premier League from last season, Brighton & Hove Albion, it is a different and unknown matter altogether among tens of millions being thrown around. Instead of bidding for the services of superstar Antoine Griezmann, The Albion are using him as promotional material to sell tickets for their upcoming friendly at home to Atletico Madrid this August. The contrast between the new boys and the establishment in the Premier League is colossal before a ball has even been kicked.
However, it would be wrong to say the Seagulls haven’t been busy in their squad preparations since their promotion just a month and a half ago. It’s just that unfortunately it has mainly been busy work to try and keep Championship goalkeeper of the season – David Stockdale – 31, on the team sheet.
The saga of Stockdale’s exit has been ongoing since around April time as the keeper was in the final stages of his contract and reports of Chelsea’s interest to bring him in as their number 2 arose (this offer supposedly never came).
The most conclusive theory around Brighton is that Stockdale wanted a large improvement on his wage and contract length, taking him above Championship golden boy Antony Knockaert, something the club simply couldn’t justify.
So as another player tried and failed to play ‘chicken’ against the Albion chairman (a worldwide poker star in his own right, Tony Bloom) it became apparent that Stockdale was not indeed bigger than the club.
The Australian national side’s shot-stopper Mat Ryan was brought in for £5.2 million and days later news broke that ‘Stockers’ had accepted Harry Redknapp’s offer to move north to Birmingham City. On a separate note, The Blues narrowly avoided relegation to League 1 finishing 17 places below Brighton. As the saying goes in Brighton since Bloom’s takeover in 2009… “Don’t mess with Uncle Tony”.
So aside from the situation between the sticks, it hasn’t been all that compelling apart from the signature of FC Ingolstadt 04 midfielder Pascal Gross on a four-year deal and the signing of new contracts for promotion hero’s Steve Sidwell, Sam Baldock, Dale Stephens & Gaeten Bong. Gross has an opportunity to show his class in the top tier of English football, but is by no means a star-signing, although now I’ve said that he is guaranteed to be the next Michael Ballack. Well, you have to be optimistic as the new boys.
Written by Will Muir.
90MAAT – your digital Premier League guide.