Following Graham Potter’s departure to fill the management void at Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion had to appoint a replacement quickly and the man they decided on was Roberto De Zerbi.
The managerial change came at an unfortunate time for a Brighton team that was building a solid run of momentum and had endured an excellent start to the season but perhaps De Zerbi could prolong their strong form.
The early signs
De Zerbi’s tenure began at Anfield which in modern times is as tough a task as they come, but Brighton led the game from early on and managed to secure a 3-3 draw against Liverpool. The following week against Tottenham Hotspur De Zerbi’s side suffered a narrow defeat but the early signs from the Italian have been positive.
Following his appointment, Brighton is still favoured in the Premier League odds at 4/11 to secure a top-ten finish, which would be a strong mark of stability for the new coach. In other Premier League news, Newcastle United are also on an excellent run of form and they added to that with an emphatic victory away to Fulham.
Newcastle will certainly be Brighton’s strongest rivals to be best of the rest and claim the seventh-place Europa Conference League spot. Finishing ahead of the North East side would demonstrate an impressive achievement for the new Brighton coach.
“With the double pivot remaining in place and plenty of numbers committed to attacks, De Zerbi’s sides aggressively counter-press in central spaces when they lose the ball.”
Roberto De Zerbi's playing style and principles… ?????#BHAFC
— The Coaches' Voice (@CoachesVoice) October 8, 2022
De Zerbi has been known for playing positive possession-based football at all of the teams he has managed. His first managerial stint was at Palermo and represented an extremely negative start to his managerial career as he recorded a number of defeats and the club sacked him just two months into his time in Sicily.
In the following season, he was appointed head coach of Serie A newcomers Benevento and although his side was relegated, he deployed a positive brand of football and ultimately lacked the personnel to have any real chance of survival.
At Sassuolo, in the following years, was where De Zerbi made a name for himself; he carried a mid-table side to back-to-back, eighth-placed finishes with little investment and came very close to securing European football for his side.
He spent a year in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk beginning in 2021 as he led his side to the Ukrainian Super Cup as well as leading the league table before it was suspended. De Zerbi is perhaps a manager Brighton has recruited due to his philosophy and style rather than past achievements. The Italian is also an extremely charismatic manager that is excellent at managing his players on an individual level and getting the absolute maximum out of them.
De Zerbi also has experience on the pitch at the peak of Italian football as he started his career at AC Milan and played a number of games for top-flight Italian clubs such as Napoli and Catania.
De Zerbi’s got the best touch in the Prem ? pic.twitter.com/It5AtG3rL6
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) October 4, 2022
He also had a stint at CFR Cluj in Romania and throughout his playing and managerial career has displayed a willingness to adapt to new environments and face new challenges. His appointment is certainly a risk but no decisions are made at Brighton without extensive research and data to back it up.
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