Can Brighton win the Premier League or reach the Champions League? – Roberto De Zerbi has his say
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Albion moved into fourth place with a 3-1 win at Manchester United – their fourth victory this season, and sit top of the goal-scored table (15).
In his post-match press conference, De Zerbi was asked if Champions League football is a realistic aim Brighton, who will be competing in the Europa League this season for the first time in the club’s history.
“I would like to fix now the new target but it's impossible,” De Zerbi said. “It's too early.
"I think we have to wait for another month. I think more or less but our target now is Thursday [against AEK Athens] because it will be a historic day for us. And we have to, to reach that day in the best way.”
It has been suggested on social media that Albion could do one better and win the league, due to their outstanding form.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), experienced commentator Ian Darke asked: “Could Brighton ‘do a Leicester’?”, referencing The Foxes’ phenomenal title win in 2016.
The Seagulls’ hopes in the league and Europe this season will be helped by the remarkable squad depth De Zerbi has at his disposal. Evan Ferguson, Ansu Fati, Joao Pedro, Carlos Baleba and Billy Gilmour were just some of the players named on the bench against United – and Pervis Estupinan and Solly March missed out entirely.
“Yes, yes, you are right,” De Zerbi said, when asked if the size of the squad will greatly benefit Brighton.
He added: “Especially this season, [we] can change [things] during the game,
“I can change strategy. We can’t keep the energy especially for the attackers. We are used to pressing 90 minutes and it's difficult for the 90 minutes to put on the same pressure. [It’s good] to have the possibility to change the attackers.”
On the impact of 21-year-old Joao Pedro – who scored off the bench on Saturday – De Zerbi said: “He's very young. He has a great potential. I think he can score more goals but he is another great young player – like Mitoma, Ferguson, Fati, Buonanotte and Gilmour.
“My work is to help them to progress, to improve because the history of the club is to, to reach one level where we have to sell the best players.”
Jason Steele was restored back in goal at Old Trafford after Bart Verbruggen started against West Ham and Newcastle.
De Zerbi stressed his pre-season plan hasn’t changed – which is to rotate both keepers in all competitions.
“I want to rotate depending on my head, not for the competition,” he said. “They can play every competition.
"It’s not right [to pick one for each]. Not correct because Jason deserves to play in Premier League and in Europa League. Verbruggen accepted to play in Brighton not only to play in Europe League but to play in Premier league as well.”