How the likes of Brighton, Southampton and Bournemouth push on to the next level could be a conundrum - Johnny Cantor

Albion celebrate after Glenn Murray's goal against Crystal Palace on Tuesday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Albion celebrate after Glenn Murray's goal against Crystal Palace on Tuesday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

So much happened on the South Coast this week with the Albion fans euphoric after their dramatic win over rivals Crystal Palace. Meanwhile along the road for the second time this season a Premier League club was making a managerial change.

First Fulham and now Mark Hughes has been replaced at Southampton by former RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl on a two and a half year deal.

It was no major surprise. Having kept Saints up Hughes was unable to reverse a worrying set of results. Of course it is inevitable that there will be sackings in the Premier League. A switch at this point of the season allows any new boss to plan for the January transfer window.

There is so much at stake that clubs have to act as they seek a change of form. Below the surface though lies a bigger conundrum. What is the target for clubs like Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth or Brighton and Hove Albion. Southampton have been to a League Cup final and tested themselves in the Europa League in recent years. The problem is that clubs have to extend themselves and that can compromise their position on the domestic front.

This season Burnley have struggled after an early start in Europe and will find it tough to recreate the results from last year. Suddenly the threat of relegation can loom. I’m sure Albion’s opponents this weekend will be fine but their plight once again highlights the dilemma for certain teams.

The wealth and resource of clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea is, if we are honest, insurmountable for some outfits. The big clubs are keen to avoid another scenario where Leicester or someone of similar scope can win the Premier League.

Results don’t always follow expenditure but it helps. So what to aim for? The League Cup? The FA Cup? All are attractive for supporters but any foray is tempered with the need to stay in the division.

Mid-table sides will assess the placings in January ahead of the third round of the FA Cup and team selection could well be affected. Last season the Seagulls pushed on to the quarter-finals before losing to Manchester United. A similar run this season would be welcome but first they will have to overcome Bournemouth. The Cherries are another side that may well take stock in the New Year as they decide where to put their best efforts.

Nights like Tuesday will live long in the memory for Seagulls supporters and a win over a bitter rival is one to savour, but I just wonder what the conversations around the boardroom table are when the long-term future is discussed.

Brighton and Hove Albion, AFC Bournemouth and Southampton all have ambitious owners and all will do what they can to try and get to the next level. Breaking into the top four or five teams is unlikely but they will all take heart from what the Foxes achieved.

However, they will also be wary that a poor run of form can leave you exposed. Saints have opted for an Austrian to try and get their ship on an even keel and they won’t be the last club this season to change the management team in a bid to stay up.

Only time will tell if it works but when those team sheets are printed on the first weekend of January for the FA Cup they may just be an indicator of how confident each side is feeling about another term in the top-flight.

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