Ask any fan to name Albion's greatest manager and the vast majority would not hesitate to answer Alan Mullery.

Not only was he the first to lead them into the top flight of English football, he also achieved the feat via two promotions in three seasons.

Albion's ambassador has legendary status among Seagulls supporters but fellow former Spurs stalwart Chris Hughton is on course to eclipse him in one respect.

By becoming Albion's longest serving and most successful manager in the top tier.

Mullery (below) lasted two seasons in the old First Division, guiding Albion to 16th and 19th when the table comprised 22 clubs, not 20.

The Argus: A A fall-out with chairman Mike Bamber over the sale of Mark Lawrenson to Liverpool and proposed cuts to his staff prompted Mullery's resignation.

Successor Mike Bailey steered Albion to 13th in 1981-82, the club's highest ever finish.

Crowds were falling when Bailey departed midway through the following season, with Albion 18th.

Nobody can forget that Jimmy Melia took Albion to the FA Cup final - and relegation. His ten-month reign ended with the Seagulls languishing in 14th in division two.

Hughton, 60 earlier this week, guided Albion to 15th last season.

All the evidence suggests they will survive again, perhaps improving that position in the process.

Even in the age of rapid hiring and firing, it would require a catastrophic and unexpected chain of events for Hughton not to be the first Albion manager in charge in the top flight for a third season.

They are much better placed than when Sunday's visitors Chelsea secured a flattering 4-0 victory at the beginning of the year (below).

The Argus: That defeat left Hughton's side 16th, only two points above the relegation zone.

They are currently 13th, 11 points clear of the bottom three, but that does not tell the whole story.

The picture is, in fact, even more encouraging than the bare statistics suggest.

Last year, Albion were not just four points worse off at the corresponding stage, they also went on to take just six points from the next 24, including two defeats by Chelsea.

The next eight matches are tough - Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool at home, Bournemouth, West Ham, Manchester United and Fulham away.

Even so, it is reasonable to think they will move into February still ahead of the game.

Especially considering that Cardiff, immediately below them in 14th, are nevertheless seven points adrift.

There are other factors to take into account in how well Albion have fared so far.

As is the case with most clubs, they are much stronger at home than away.

They have played seven matches at the Amex to date. Only four others have played so few home games (Spurs with their moving issues have only played six).

Cardiff and Newcastle, another of the teams below Albion, have played nine at home, Huddersfield and Burnley eight.

There is an additional benefit to be derived from the fixture list.

The hardest matches for anyone in the Premier League are Manchester City (below) and Liverpool away, the sides widely expected to battle it out for the title.

The Argus: Their combined home records are frightening. Played 15, won 14, drawn one, lost none, goals for 45, against six.

Fulham and Southampton are the only other clubs that have already visited both.

The most comfort of all is provided by Albion's tally of 21 points from 16 games.

Watford were the closest to that at the same stage last season with 22.

They finished 14th with 41 points, a point and a place above the Seagulls.

In 2016-17, Watford, Bournemouth and Southampton all had 21 points from 16 games.

Although Watford ended up 17th with 40, that was still six points clear of the drop zone. Southampton finished eighth, Bournemouth ninth, both with 46 points.

In 2015-16, the Saints came sixth with 63 points from the foundation of 21 after 16.

That is an extreme example of success in the second half of the campaign. Spurs and Liverpool, both with 21 points after 16 matches in 2014-15 are less valid comparisons too. Spurs finished fifth with 64 points, Liverpool sixth with 62.

In 2013-13, Swansea were nearest the 21 points guide at this stage, on 20. They were 12th in the final table with 42 points.

A record-high finish for Albion? It is far more plausible than relegation and Hughton not being Albion's manager next season.