The comparisons are still being made. The numbers still being studied.

At least in some quarters. Especially when Albion lose.

There are still analyses of the figures the Seagulls posted under previous boss Chris Hughton and current progress with head coach Graham Potter.

For what it’s worth, here’s the very latest.

Defeat by Manchester United on Sunday means Albion are on their joint lowest points tally in the Premier League after 30 games.

They remain on 32 points, the number to which success over Arsenal in game 30 last summer took them.

Two years ago, they were on 33 and, in 2018, they had 34.

The wins tally is seven, the same as last year and two fewer than in 2019.

They have scored 33 goals this season compared to 34 last term, 32 in Hughton’s final season and only 28 in 2018.

This season they have their best defensive record in the Prem after 30 games but, again, it is very close, with 38 conceded compared to 41, 43 and 40 previously.

Perhaps the most significant upgrade between the Potter and Hughton tenures is in terms of goal difference.

Minus five this season and minus seven last year against minus 11 and minus 12 under the previous boss.

But it is still close. Very close.

So close as to be classed as essentially no different.

And, let’s be honest, the comparison in which people are interested is between how things are now and how they were two years ago, in Hughton’s final months at the helm.

Albion have one point less, are one place lower in the table but have scored one more goal.

So, again, the same really.

And remember you are comparing records against different teams. Some of the clubs are different to those they faced in 2019 and those who are still there have changed some of their personnel.

If Albion beat Everton on Monday, it changes again. They would be two points ahead of two years ago.

If they draw, they will be level.

But there IS a telling comparison to be made and it is this.

Three years ago, when the Seagulls had 34 points at this stage, it felt like they were at full capacity.

That they were pulling out all the stops to be where they were.

And that was fine. It was their first season in the elite since 1983.

A year on, when they had 33 points, it felt like they were going backwards.

You could not see where the next win was coming from. Which is hardly surprising really because another win DIDN’T come.

In 2021, Albion are where are they are but it feels like they are under-achieving.

That they can only improve.

Thirty-two points feels like that have been short-changed. By themselves and by third parties.

That they ultimately stayed up under Hughton by only two points is misleading in a way.

It wasn’t that tense. They were mathematically safe by the time they kicked off their penultimate match at Arsenal.

But they were fortunate there was not a stronger team in 18th than Cardiff, who had the Emiliano Sala tragedy with which to contend and wasted some great chances late on to pick up points.

The 30th game was a defeat at home to Southampton.

Looking back at the team now, there was not much Prem potential in that XI.

There were several players who, with hindsight, might have reached their ceiling.

Not bad players. In many cases, players who have a massive place in the club’s recent history and folklore.

But, still, players who, through their age and career trajectory, had reached their best.

Two years on, it is hard to say, for example, Shane Duffy or Martin Montoya or Glenn Murray or Dale Stephens or Bernardo or Anthony Knockaert have gone on to better things.

Maty Ryan might do so but it has not happened yet and he will have taken an unusual route.

Of the side which led and lost at Old Trafford, Pascal Gross, Joel Veltman, Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck have peaked.

They maintain a high level but are close to their own personal ceilings.

As for Robert Sanchez, Yves Bissouma, Ben White, Jakub Moder, Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay, there is surely so much more to come.

That goes for others who were not in the XI such as injured Tariq Lamptey or maybe Adam Webster. Further down the line, there will be Michal Karbownik or Moises Caicedo or one or two of those out on loan at the moment.

As in any piece which references the Hughton years, it must be stressed that he was fantastic for the club and that he felt he could have taken the next step which has been entrusted to Potter.

That goal remains, looking longer-term, progress into the top ten.

Could that declared aim lead to false expectations among fans? Maybe, although you would like to think they are more self-aware than that.

But it equally avoids that feeling we have seen at smaller clubs who reach the Prem, stay up for a few years and then think “What now?”.

You need something to strive for.

The top-ten goal will be mocked by some, just as the Premier League Ready motto was mocked six or seven years ago.

When Paul Barber kept using the phrase "Premier League Ready" to me in an interview in 2013, as we toured the Lancing building site which would become the current training complex, I was a bit uncomfortable quoting him.

So I called him that evening, before we printed the next day’s newspaper, to make sure he really meant it.

Of course he meant it. Paul Barber doesn’t say things to the media he doesn’t mean or want to be quoted.

When Tony Bloom had the Amex built, he did so for sell-outs in the Premier League while most of us thought fancifully about Albion being top half of the Championship, playing in front of 15,000 or 18,000.

Comparing the Hughton and Potter stats right now doesn’t work because the Potter bit has not finished.


What we know is, however successful Potter is, it would not have happened without what Hughton did. But then the current footballing evolution maybe would not have happened WITH Hughton.

And because what Hughton did and what Potter is doing are, ultimately, different parts of the same story as far as the bigger picture of the club’s progress is concerned.

The latest chapter is still unfolding