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Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United target has won five games in 20!

Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United target has won five games in 20!

What if we told you there’s a manager whose team are on a run of five wins in 20 Premier League matches and yet not only is his job in absolutely no danger, there is absolutely nobody writing polemics or beard-stroking pieces about whether his club should sack him, everyone still agrees he’s an excellent manager doing an excellent job and that if he does leave his current employment it will be to join one of the very biggest clubs in the land.

At least one and very possibly two or three of the Big Six jobs are going to be up for grabs this summer, and our man is third favourite for the definite one, Liverpool, while also currently sitting fourth favourite for Chelsea and seventh favourite for Manchester United.

Nobody would bat an eyelid if he ends up getting any of those jobs. That’s… well, that’s just all a bit weird, isn’t it?

Five wins in 20 Premier League matches. That is very few Premier League wins. It’s the same number of wins in the last 20 Premier League matches as Luton, one more than Nottingham Forest and two fewer than Everton.

Our in-demand manager has also seen his team knocked out of the FA Cup by a team now only one point behind them in the league having started the season among the relegation favourites and with a manager nobody is touting for the biggest jobs in the land.

The manager is, obviously – because there’s a big old picture of his face right up there at the top of the story look – Roberto De Zerbi and his widely admired Brighton side.

It’s a surprising one, isn’t it? We’d love to know hand on heart honestly how many of you knew they were on a run of five wins in 20 Premier League games. We certainly didn’t and it’s kind of our job to know this sh*t. We had to look it up and then double-check and triple-check it because it sounds absolutely mental.

Five wins, Roberto? Five? In 20 games? That’s insane.

There is, of course, ample mitigation for De Zerbi and his team. It must be noted they did win five of their first six games before all this unpleasantness began with a 6-1 tonking off Aston Villa. It’s equally and undeniably true that they are still seventh in the league, and that’s really quite good when you are Brighton. Chelsea, for instance, or, say, Newcastle would very much like to be seventh in the league right now.

It’s also true that Brighton still don’t lose many games. They may have fewer wins than anyone else in the top half, but they’ve also suffered at least two fewer defeats than anyone outside the top five.

It’s also true, though, that the conspicuous underperformers this season are now closing in. They really could be in the bottom half pretty soon; 11th-placed Chelsea are now only four points behind with a home game against Tottenham in hand.

This is really bad timing for De Zerbi, if he is indeed eyeing one of English football’s loftier perches. He’s going to be going up against serial trophy winners or guys with significant club DNA advantage for all those potential jobs this summer, and – through no fault of his own – must also overcome the memory that still lingers of what happened to the last impressive, progressive Brighton coach who jumped to the Big Six. The glow-up was incredible, sure, but the results were dire.

But it does also show the other thing De Zerbi has to consider when deciding if he wants to move should the chance arise this summer. In its own way, facing close to zero scrutiny for a run of five wins in 20 games shows just what a good thing he’s got going at the Amex. Sure, that’s down to his own brilliant work over the previous year, but it wouldn’t matter what credit he had in the bank if he was at a club where the spotlight shines inevitably brighter but also harsher.

Imagine the conversations we’d be having now if Erik Ten Hag had won five of his last 20 league games. Eddie Howe is finally coming under some kind of pressure, but even he has eight wins in the last 20.

At Brighton, no matter how good or bad things get, the wider football consciousness will detect only the wins and memory-hole the losses. It is a gift no Big Six/Seven/Whatever manager can enjoy for long. It is undoubtedly something for him to ponder.

But it also raises a related question for Brighton fans. What constitutes a good end to the Premier League season here? Some uptick in form would clearly be welcome, but is a return to that early-season form really a good idea if it bumps De Zerbi up the lists for those big beasts? Is coasting to a seventh or eighth-placed finish that keeps progress ticking along and De Zerbi where he is for another year actually a better long-term outcome.

Not straightforward, is it? We’re really not sure what the answer is. Really, we just couldn’t get our heads round that whole ‘five wins in 20’ thing and thus had to inflict it on everyone else.

READ: Who will be the next manager to be sacked?

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