Brighton & Ireland Star Needs a Reset After a Tricky Season

evan ferguson
Bright and Hove 19 year old Evan Ferguson has had a tricky season. Here's a brief look at what went wrong and how the teen needs a reset to move forward.

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Brighton & Hove Albion showcased their shrewdness in the transfer market with the signing of Bohemians centre-forward Evan Ferguson in 2021.

The young Irish sensation made his senior debut against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup in January 2022, and came off the bench to assisting Jakub Moder’s goal.

He announced himself to the world the following season, spearheading the Seagulls to a sixth-place finish as they booked a spot in the Europa League for the first time in their history.

Ferguson was voted Brighton’s Young Player of the Season at the end-of-year awards. A big-money move to a top Premier League club seemed inevitable.

Brighton tied him to a new contract that runs until 2029, but his development stalled after a promising start to the 2023/24 campaign.

He netted four goals in the opening four league games, including a hat-trick in a 3-1 home win against Newcastle United. Sports bettors started to tout him as a potential Golden Boot winner.

Legal betting sites in Ireland were forced to slash Ferguson odds in the top goalscorer market, but he subsequently scored just two more league goals.

Ferguson’s touch was heavy and he looked slow on the turn. He was no longer making the dangerous runs into the box that made him a sensational prospect.

The 19-year-old was clearly devoid of confidence. This was evident when he missed a penalty for the Republic of Ireland against Belgium during an international friendly in March.

He also wasted a guilt-edge opportunity to win the game in the dying minutes, leaving fans scratching their heads about his sharp decline.

Fergusin’s Downturn in Form is Not Unusual

Ferguson set the bar high in his first full season but failed to reach the same heights last term. However, it is not an uncommon occurrence.

Even world-class Erling Braut Haaland experienced a slight second-season slump at Manchester City. After registering 36 goals in his debut campaign, he netted ‘only’ 27 goals last term.

Ferguson fell ill after his early exploits and never really recovered from that setback. He began to struggle to keep up with the pace of the Premier League and failed to catch up.

It did not help that he had to share game time with Joao Pedro and Danny Welbeck. His match participation was sporadic, and this did not allow him to find his groove.

With Europa League football adding to their fixture congestion, manager Roberto De Zerbi chopped and changed his team, leading to fewer minutes for the Irishman.

Signed from Watford for around £20 million, Pedro took over as the team’s talisman. The Brazilian forward bagged 20 goals to leave Ferguson clicking his heels on the sidelines.

Ferguson Must Regroup this Summer

The 19-year-old still has years ahead of him and cannot afford to allow this season’s disappointments to define the rest of his career.

With De Zerbi exiting the club this summer, the Seagulls will appoint a new manager, giving the County Meath native a clean slate to impress the boss.

Ferguson’s link-up play is years beyond his age, and he has shown he can be ruthless in front of goal. He must find his mojo to get back on the scoring sheet regularly.

Top clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United are aware that this is only a minor setback. They are still tracking his progress despite his poor season.

However, Ferguson will be better served staying at Brighton next season. There is no better environment for his development at this juncture. He needs stability right now.

Chasing a big-money move isn’t the answer. He must rediscover his rhythm at Brighton and show that he has what it takes to consistently lead the line in the Premier League before he makes the jump.

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