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2014-15 Season Review Part One

Another season ending in the play off semi finals, another manager leaving as a result. This time Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation meaning another summer spent looking for another management who would be charged with making it third time lucky in terms of reaching the promised land of the top flight.

Of course, that never materialised as new boss Sami Hyypia was left with a squad devoid of any sort of quality as we ended up fighting to leave the Championship via a very different door - namely, the back one into League One.

Hyppia lasted all of six months in the job before handing over to former Norwich City manager Chris Hughton who led the side away from danger but was dogged with problems if his own - namely, boring football and a complete inability to score goals.

Take a deep breath - the 2014-15 Season Review is likely to be a painful one...

Pre-Season 2014
Sami Hyypia arrived at the beginning of June although there were very few new players joining alongside him - in fact, it took until July 14th for Aaron Hughes to become the first man in the door from QPR as the replacement for Matt Upson in the "experienced defender". He was quickly followed by Chris O'Grady, scorer of 15 goals as Barnsley were relegated from the Championship. The goalkeeper problem was addressed when David Stockdale - once of the England squad of course - arrived from Fulham for 1.5m to replace Tomasz Kuszczak. After one of the most prolonged transfer ordeals in recent memory, Leonardo Ulloa finally got the move to the Premier League he richly deserved with a club record fee of 8m coming in from Leicester City. Pre-season was a mixed bag of results - convincing wins over Lewes 5-0 and Partick Thistle 4-0 told about as much as defeats to top flight opposition in the form of Real Betis 3-1 and Southampton by the same scoreline did. Perhaps more ominous were the failure to beat two League One sides, with a 1-1 draw at Crawley Town being followed up by a 2-1 defeat at Peterborough United. The Albion kicked off the new season with just three new additions and obvious drop in quality among the squad with the club telling us "we'll have a competitive squad by the time the transfer window shuts" - which came after 15 points were up for grabs. A risky strategy if ever there was one.
August 2014
The Hyypia era got off to a conspicuous start, a 1-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday doing little to inspire confidence and that was followed by making hard work of knocking League Two Cheltenham out of the COCup Will Buckley departed to Sunderland as Joao Teixeira arrived on-loan from Liverpool but not even his presence could inspire the Albion to a shot at Birmingham, securing their first home win in 10 months 1-0 as a rendition of "sign some f**king players" rang out from the away end. Danny Holla duly arrived for the first win under Hyypia 2-0 away at Leeds as Teixeira and Kazenga LuaLua netted and that was followed up with a 2-1 success over Bolton thanks to Craig Mackail-Smith and another strike from the Liverpool loanee. In between those games, Joe Bennett arrived from Villa as our third loaned left back in three seasons and he was joined by Adrian Colunga, Paddy McCourt. and Gary Gardner. The Spanish striker marked his debut with a goal in a 4-2 win at Swindon in the COCup with Rohan Ince netting the goal of the season before Lewis Dunk rescued a 2-2 draw with Charlton in which Sam Baldock made his debut after a 2m fee was paid to Bristol City.
Record: P7, W4, D1, L2, F12, A7

Results: 0-1 Sheffield Wed H, 2-0 Cheltenham H, 0-1 Birmingham A, 2-0 Leeds A, 2-1 Bolton H, 4-2 Swindon A, 2-2 Charlton H
League Position at End of Month: 13th
September 2014
We never win at Brentford and so it proved again as a real ding dong game ended 3-2 to the home side. Stockdale belatedly saved his first shot of the season six games into his Albion career at Griffin Park before helping keep the score down in a 2-0 defeat away at Ipswich. Blackpool were odds on favourites not just for relegation but to also end the season propping up the table yet Brighton were unable to score past them in a 0-0 draw at The Amex. A glamour fourth round tie with Spurs was secured in the COCup after a 3-0 win at Burton Albion, Ince, LuaLua and Mackail-Smith netting with Inigo Calderon deciding that, with two minutes to go and cruising against League Two opposition, he would produced a typically robust horror tackle to get himself sent off. The month ended with a creditable 0-0 draw away at Nottingham Forest who had begun the season like a rocket and that was followed up with a 1-1 home draw with manager less Cardiff City, Bruno netting a wonderful chipped effort from out wide only to see the Redbirds peg things back one minute later, the Albion unable to find away past the one man wall that was David Marshall in the home goal after that.
Record: P6, W1, D3, L2, F6, A6

Results: 2-3 Brentford A, 0-2 Ipswich A, 0-0 Blackpool H, 0-3 Burton A, 0-0 Nottingham Forest A, 1-1 Cardiff H
League Position at End of Month: 18th
October 2014
Having slumped to 18th place, October arriving was the last thing anyone from the Albion wanted. Brighton have not won in the tenth month of the year since 2010 and kept up that mighty fine record to stretch their winless run in the league to over two months. Dunk confirmed his place as the stand out performer in the first half of the season by scoring another timely goal in a 1-1 draw at Watford in which Andrew Crofts received another season ending injury. That was followed by a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough before Dunk was again the man on target as the spoils were shared 1-1 at Huddersfield Town with LuaLua doing well to see red for two bookings and then another 1-1 draw at home to fellow relegation candidates Rotherham beckoned, former Seagull Alex Revell cancelling out Joe Bennett's opener. Erik Lamella and Harry "he's one of our own despite those photos of him in an Arsenal shirt as a kid" Kane ended our interest in the COCup as Spurs ran out 2-0 winners at White Hart Lane. An injury to Stockdale handed young Christian Walton his chance in that game and he impressed so what did we go and do? Sign Ali al-Habsi on loan from Wigan rather than give the youngster a chance.
Record: P5, W0, D3, L2, F4, A7

Results: 1-1 Watford A, 1-2 Middlesbrough H, 1-1 Huddersfield A, 1-1 Rotherham H, 0-2 Tottenham A
League Position at End of Month: 21st
November 2014
al-Habsi made his debut in front of the Sky cameras in a 3-2 defeat away at promotion chasing AFC Bournemouth, Adrian Colunga and Sam Baldock proving on the day to be that rarity of strikers who score goals. Greg Halford arrived on loan from Nottingham Forest which meant al-Habsi was sent back after just one game due to us - can you believe it - having too many loan players in the squad. Elliott Bennet returned on loan from Norwich City with Walton back between the posts to keep a clean sheet as a first league win since August was recorded 1-0 over Wigan thanks to Gary Gardner's first for the club. The Forest loanee was again in the goals in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn which was followed by a 3-3 thriller away at Norwich City. Chris O'Grady's stuttering Albion career looked all but over after he was sent out to League One Sheffield United with Darren Bent arriving - you've guessed it - on loan from Aston Villa. He marked his debut with a goal against former club Fulham and duly celebrated by sprinting from North Stand to South Stand to celebrate in front of the travelling support but they had the last laugh, winning 2-1 on the day to leave Brighton sitting in the relegation zone.
Record: P5, W1, D2, L2, F8, A9

Results: 2-3 Bournemouth A, 1-0 Wigan H, 1-1 Blackburn H, 3-3 Norwich A, 1-2 Fulham H
League Position at End of Month: 2
December 2014
Doubts were rightly surfacing about Hyypia but the real proof that he was out of his depth came when deciding not to play a holding midfield player away at Derby - the result being trailing 3-0 after 20 minutes. The Amex had finally had enough when Milllll came to town, a terrible Lions outfit holding onto their 15th minute lead to win 1-0 and spark some of the most poisonous scenes against an Albion manager in some time. He survived one more game - the 1-1 draw at Wolves in which an 88th minute equaliser cancelled out Bent's first half opener. With "Hyppia Out" banners present at Molineux, the board reluctantly (FINALLY) accepted the Finn's resignation. Out with him went David Burke who had presided over the disastrous transfer policy as Nathan Jones took temporary charge, inspiring the Albion to come back from 2-0 down at home to Reading on Boxing Day through Jake Forster-Caskey and a 90th minute leveller from Inigo Calderon. Jones then oversaw the stand out win of the season, 2-0 away at Fulham with Colunga and Solly March netting and the recalled O'Grady looking like a different player before Chris Hughton's appointment was confirmed a day before New Years Ever.
Record: P5, W1, D2, L2, F5, A7

Results: 0-3 Derby A, 0-1 Millllll H, 1-1 Wolves A, 2-2 Reading H, 2-0 Fulham A
League Position at End of Month: 21st