'De Zerbi's boots are big ones to fill'

Brighton fan's voice graphic

The announcement that Roberto de Zerbi is to leave Brighton is that strangest of things: an unsurprising shock.

The Albion board do not take well to public criticism, so from the moment De Zerbi questioned the club's transfer plans and said those at the top would need to learn lessons from the 2023-24 season, it felt like he had cooked his own goose.

Gus Poyet went the same way 12 years ago, although Brighton have at least avoided a repeat of another messy and undignified divorce. It was also easier to understand the decision to dispense with Poyet in the face of a disappointing Championship play-off semi final defeat by Crystal Palace.

Despite De Zerbi's questioning of the ownership, I thought he would have enough credit in the bank.

To lead the Albion to sixth place in 2022-23 was a phenomenal achievement. This season, he has delivered unforgettable victories in Europe over Marseille, AEK Athens, Ajax and Roma.

Domestic performances do not warrant him leaving Brighton either. At the start of the season, most Albion fans would have settled for a 10th-place finish and a decent Europa League run.

Everyone knew the challenges clubs face when qualifying for Europe for the first time. Throw in a crippling injury list and De Zerbi has done a fine job.

There was excitement over what 2024-25 would hold with him at the helm.

With a fully fit squad and some shrewd acquisitions, and without the additional workload of European football, the Albion stood every chance of getting back to the flowing De Zerbi-ball which took the Premier League by storm in his first season.

It was the best football ever played by a Brighton team.

Now there are just questions. Only time will tell if this is the right decision for the club.

Tony Bloom has an excellent track record - Sami Hyypia aside - when it comes to appointing managers.

This next is one he must get right.

De Zerbi's boots are big ones to fill after he had the Seagulls soaring to the highest heights supporters have ever known.

Never dull, being a Brighton fan.

Scott McCarthy can be found at We Are Brighton