As Roberto De Zerbi celebrates his one-year anniversary at Brighton & Hove Albion, his impact at the club is clear for all to see - and he says he is "living the dream" ahead of the club's first ever European match this Thursday.
After taking over as head coach on 18 September 2022, the 44-year-old has helped transform the Seagulls into one of the best attacking sides over the last 12 months.
Brighton's second goal v Man Utd on Saturday
Thirty passes. Goal. De Zerbismo. 💫 pic.twitter.com/2PLlE5aJeS— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) September 17, 2023
“It’s a dream for me, its crazy”, De Zerbi told the club's YouTube channel. “It’s been incredible to work here, to reach the important target.
“My focus is still on this season, but if I remember back to the first period and compare it now, I’m really proud and happy.”
Since the Italian took charge, Brighton have become one of the Premier League's most exciting sides, and the statistics back that up.
Brighton's attacking stats under De Zerbi
|Shots on target||244||1st|
|Touches in opp. box||1228||3rd|
These numbers show why Brighton deserved their sixth-place finish in 2022/23, as they recorded some memorable results on the way.
“I think the crucial game was Chelsea, in terms of the result (winning 4-1)," he said. "But if we speak about the mentality, the style of play, the attitude and behaviour of the players, how the players played in that game, we can consider Man City the most important and crucial game (losing 3-1 the week before)."
Brighton have a new challenge this season as they enter the UEFA Europa League, hosting AEK Athens in their first group-stage match this week. De Zerbi is not expecting the busier schedule to cause many problems, but does understand he will have to make adjustments.
“I don’t think it’s tougher, no. But we have to get used to playing three games in a row, three games per week," he said. “I have to be smart about changing players, and they have to be ready to be playing one game but not the next.
“A very important aspect of my idea is to play with colour and pride, and to always think that we can win against anyone.
“We want to win every game, in every competition, while respecting our club, our fans and ourselves. We want to play in Europe next year, not just this year.”