The 30,000-odd thousand Brighton fans watching their team qualify for the Europa League are in truly uncharted territory, but things can get even better.
That’s the view of Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom, who sees no reason why Roberto De Zerbi’s men can’t carry on their heroics into next season despite the looming threat of losing key players in the summer.
Brighton secured European football for the first time in their 122-year history last weekend with their draw to treble-chasing Manchester City meaning they will play in next season’s Europa League.
The south coast side, who were nothing special in League One back in 2010, have been on a creditable rise and have been a breath of fresh air this season in particular.
They’re everyone else’s second team with breakout stars including Kaoru Mitoma, Julio Enciso and Evan Ferguson making waves in the top flight, and City boss Pep Guardiola has surely run out of superlatives to describe the sterling work De Zerbi has done since stepping in as manager after Graham Potter was poached by Chelsea.
Amid the celebrations at the Amex Stadium where club classic Freed From Desire blared across the PA system there may be an undercurrent of anxiety about what happens before the 2023/24 season even begins with stars including Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo heavily linked with moves away.
But Bloom isn’t panicking as he insists Brighton will compete next season and suggested some even better memories can be made.
He told talkSPORT: “It’s been a tremendous season. Roberto, the players and everyone involved has done absolutely superbly. We’re so delighted to finish sixth this season, Europa League.
“Tonight we came against the best team in the world and matched them. Perhaps we were the better side over the 90 minutes which is just so brilliant for myself, the fans and for the whole city.”
On De Zerbi, Bloom said: “He’s doing things that no other head coaches have done. Long may that continue and we look forward to seeing him in the Premier League and Europa League next season.
Bloom added: “We’ll be able to compete on all levels next season even if we lose a couple of our star players.
“That happens at almost every club, we don’t worry about these things and as long as we get the right price for our players they will sometimes go.
“That happens across the board, we’re not at all worried about that and we look to come back stronger next season.”
And why would you doubt Bloom’s Brighton? Just look at their track record.
In the summer they lost standout left-back Marc Cucurella and brought in Pervis Estpuninan, who’s been a revelation for them… and Fantasy Premier League managers.
They lost a manager in Potter and brought in De Zerbi, who’s taken them up a level and even the messy departure of Leandro Trossard in January didn’t lead to a drop-off.
Everyone is trying to look over Bloom’s shoulder to pinch ideas about how he and Brighton do things and when giving a nugget of what the method behind the success is, Bloom makes it all sound really simple.
Bloom said: “A lot of it is about process and our staff. A lot of our staff have been there for a long time and when staff move on we always want to have a plan bringing our existing staff up, sometimes hiring new people and that’s across the whole club.
“It’s step-by-step and year by year we’re looking to improve all the time.
“And then you can get to where we were 14 years ago, near the bottom of League One, to where we are now.”