Brighton hope the appointment of Melissa Phillips as their new head coach can push them towards bigger and better things in 2023/24.
The Seagulls tempted the American back to England after a spell serving as assistant head coach at Angel City FC, with Phillips able to help Brighton see off the threat of relegation last season after disappointing spells under Hope Powell and Jens Scheuer.
A promising transfer window has led to optimism of improvement down on the south coast, with Brighton now considered by many to be a genuine top-six contender.
To say 2022/23 was difficult would be a huge understatement. Hope Powell’s five-year tenure came to an end after an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Tottenham, while Jens Scheuer fared no better after replacing interim boss Amy Merricks.
The German lasted just three months in the role before being relieved of his duties. Merrick stepped into the breach once more before taking over as England’s Under-19 head coach, and that led to the appointment of Phillips, formerly of London City Lionesses, in early April.
Brighton did reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, putting in a good performance in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Manchester United.
One of the real success stories of Brighton’s summer was retaining the services of promising young forward Katie Robinson, who drew interest from Manchester United among others during the transfer window.
Brighton can now hope to mould their front line around Robinson, and she’s likely to play a huge role leading the goalscoring charge for Phillips. The 21-year-old has already demonstrated composure in front of goal, while she’s also shown a key eye for creating chances for her teammates.
One to watch
If you’re looking for an exciting WSL transfer window signing, look no further than Brighton’s acquisiton of Wolfsburg’s Pauline Bremer.
The German international has swapped playing in the Champions League final last season to playing on the south coast, such was the appeal of the project on offer under Phillips, and her experience of playing at the highest level should help develop some of Brighton’s younger players.
Bremer is no stranger to playing in England too, having spent time at Manchester City, and her ability to score goals will be a huge asset for the Seagulls.
With vast experience of managing London City Lionesses in the Championship, the pressure is now on Melissa Phillips to show what she can do at the highest level of English football.
What should stand her in good stead is how positively Brighton’s new signings have spoken about her vision for the club – clearly she’s an impressionable manager who has a succinct plan of what direction she wants to go in.
That buy-in is exactly what Brighton need if they’re to ascend the WSL table, and Phillips’ extensive coaching background in both England and the United States should only aid the cause further.
Brighton’s summer recruitment looks impressive on the surface, with a blend of experienced top level players coming in alongside some hungry, talented youngsters.
Bremer, Vicky Losada, Jorelyn Carabali and Tatiana Pinto stand out as the most exciting arrivals, but Nicky Evrard’s arrival on loan from Chelsea and Maria Thorisdottir’s signing from Manchester United shouldn’t be understated – the latter will provide added class to the backline.
There have also been plenty of outgoings, with Phillips keen to move on from the players she feels aren’t part of Brighton’s long-term project.
Brighton are looking to swiftly move on from last season’s hugely disappointing 11th-place finish, and there’s a genuine feeling that the top six can be cracked.
Significant player turnover is always difficult to deal with, so Phillips will have a big job on to integrate her new recruits quickly, but continued investment from Brighton can only stand the club in good stead for the future.
Vicky Losada has been installed as captain, and her experience, coupled with the quality of Bremer and others, could see Brighton spring a few surprises this season.
Brighton 2023/24 WSL prediction: 6th
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