Before Saturday, there had been signs of that at Brighton. Chris Hughton’s men went into Saturday’s Championship game against Birmingham as the only unbeaten side in top four divisions of English football.
That’s no easy feat but they also went into Saturday’s game off top spot on the back of a run of four draws in five games.
Birmingham’s visit was a big test then and one Brighton passed with a 2-1 win that sent them top again. Hughton, who appears to have the Midas touch in this level, was understandably relieved.
“On the balance of play it was a result we thoroughly deserved,” he said. “It is a wonderful run we are on and a wonderful achievement. We have deserved it because our level of performance has been good. It’s good to get a win after a few draws of late and that difference between three points and one is crucial. We have got a committed team and you have to have that to win football matches in this division. We hope that can continue.”
If it does, there will be an Irish boss at Premier League level again come next season. There might even be two as Daryl Murphy’s return to form for Ipswich has lifted Mick McCarthy’s men to the fringes of the play-off spots.
Murphy netted a brace on Saturday as Ipswich extended their unbeaten run to six with a 3-0 win at Charlton.
“We had a goalscorer who hadn’t scored for 13 games who has now scored six in three. There lies the difference,” McCarthy said of Ipswich’s improved form.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Lee Frecklington was on the mark as Rotherham United beat fellow strugglers Bristol City 3-0.
In the Scottish Premiership, forgotten man Anthony Stokes landed himself in hot water at the weekend after taking to social media to complain about being left out of the squad for the 3-1 win over Inverness.
He tweeted: “Buzzing to be brought all the way up to Inverness with the team to sit in the stands today, lovely weather for it too.”
Then followed it up by tweeting: “Who gives a f*** about wages when your not playing games! It’s all about playing and contributing not picking up a wage.”
Stokes later took to Twitter to apologise for the outburst but that didn’t spare him criticism from Celtic boss Ronny Deila.
“We travel every week with 20 players and the manager puts out 11 and seven on the bench and there are always two left out,” Deila said.
“If that is harder for him than somebody else, then for me he is not a team player.
“What is important with Stokesy is that he has to show the work first before he speaks and if you do that then you always have a future.
“But so far he has been more about talking than performances.”
Elsewhere, Adam Rooney and Jonathan Hayes both scored as Aberdeen beat Ross County 3-1 while Mark Connolly grabbed a consolation as Kilmarnock lost 5-2 to Partick Thistle.
In League One in England, Conor Hourihane made amends for missing a penalty by grabbing a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser in Barnsley’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.
Tykes boss Lee Johnson said: “It was a fantastic finish, great strike and obviously he has that in his locker.
“If you want that to fall to anyone on his left foot it is Conor.
“Their keeper saved his penalty and he was hurting from that but he didn’t hide and when the man needed to step up he did.”
Meanwhile, a goal from Shaun Williams gave Millwall a 1-0 win over Bury while James Collins’ equaliser rescued a 2-2 draw for Shrewsbury against Gillingham.
In League Two, Michael Harriman’s goal helped Wycombe to a 2-2 draw against Portsmouth; Barry Corr scored a penalty in Cambridge United’s 3-1 win over Notts County while Rhys Murphy was on the mark in a losing cause as Crawley United went down 3-1 to Carlisle.