Jamie Murphy: Chris Hughton key to Brighton's success this season

Jamie Murphy of Brighton & Hove Albion
Image: Jamie Murphy has scored three times for Brighton this season

Buying presents, celebrating with friends and family while drinking and eating to excess. Yearly traditions for most in December. But Brighton's build-up to Christmas could scarcely be more different than last year.

In 2014, Albion entered their Boxing Day match against Reading in the Championship relegation zone, with just one win from their last 18 league matches and without a manager following Sami Hyypia's resignation.

Fast forward almost 365 days, and they are the only unbeaten side among the 92 league clubs and could be top of the tree for Christmas if they beat Middlesbrough in the penultimate 10 in 10 fixture on Saturday.

And the man who replaced Hyypia has, according to summer signing Jamie Murphy, played a big part in the turnaround.

"He has a lot to do with it," says Murphy of Chris Hughton. "They didn't have a great start last season but the manager came in, kept the club in the league and has built from there.

"He has brought in the right staff and got the right people at the club. He's always wanting you to improve and he's very honest and open about the way he is thinking if you are playing, not playing and what the team is going to do.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton is celebrating too
Image: Chris Hughton was named Championship Manager of the Month for August

"It's good to have a manager that you know is going to be straight with you and who gets on with the boys. Nathan Jones and Colin Calderwood are great coaches as well, so that also helps."

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With Hughton at the helm, the Seagulls have enjoyed a remarkable season so far, winning 11 of their 21 league games, drawing 10 and losing none. Of the top five leagues in Europe, only runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain still hold an unbeaten record.

"I think other teams probably think about it more than we do," says Murphy. "It's not something that has been spoken about in the changing room, we just go into every game trying to win.

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"When you are not losing games, you know you are playing well and you can go out and win or get a draw in difficult games. Knowing you can do that gives you confidence."

Murphy was one of a number signings made by Brighton in the summer, ending a two-year spell with Sheffield United to move to the south coast.

"I feel like I have settled in well," he says. "The boys are great, I'm enjoying my football and have been playing, which is the most important thing. Hopefully I can keep contributing to the team.

"It's obviously a bit different to League One. There are real quality players in the Championship so it's a bit faster and the tempo is a bit higher. There are players in this team who could definitely play higher. It's great that we have them at Brighton at the moment and hopefully they stay."

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Highlights of QPR's 2-2 draw with Brighton

Brighton slipped off top spot on Tuesday evening after letting a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with QPR. But they have the chance to move above Boro when they host Aitor Karanka's side on Saturday. 

"They are a good side," says Murphy. "It's a game that we have been looking forward to. It's been a tough week with Derby, QPR and now Middlesbrough so if we can get the win that would round it off well."

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