Adam Webster’s growing importance is just one great example of Brighton’s evolution under Graham Potter.
Potter’s desire to change Brighton’s style led him to identify central web star Webster, 25, with a ball game upon his arrival in May last year.
And over time, the shift he introduced has led Webster to emerge as a mainstay of Potter’s backline and to break the longstanding partnership between Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, the two defenses upon which Brighton’s defense was previously built.
Adam Webster has made a big impact since moving to Brighton last summer
Introducing Webster and making 30 appearances during a standout Premier League season following his £ 22 million move from Bristol City was no easy feat for Webster.
He said, “I knew how good the collaboration between Duffy and Dunk has been in recent years and it would be hard to get out of the way. Duffs was player of the year last year.
“I’ve been to a few clubs where the best players were the mid-halves before I got there and I had to work hard to get on the team, so it was no different to get here.”
In their own way, both faithful Seagulls have helped Webster adapt to life in The Amex.
Duffy, “ a great locker room character, ” might have been one of those Brighton players who didn’t play as much as he’d wanted, but he “ stayed completely behind all the boys. ”
Webster broke the established partnership between Shane Duffy (left) and Lewis Dunk
About Dunk, Webster said, “It was great [playing alongside him]. Everyone now sees how good he is.
“Me and Shane Duffy were talking recently. He said when he first signed for Brighton [in 2016] he didn’t know who Lewis Dunk was and now clearly a lot more people know who he is and what a good player he is, especially this season with the way we play.
“People have been able to see how he can bring the ball out from the back, it was class, so really good to play so much next to him and hopefully that can go on.”
Webster is, as expected, also tailored for Potter’s ownership-based approach, and his way of playing has already contributed to Brighton’s survival.
They will also set a new Premier League club record of 41 when they beat Burnley in their last game.
Brighton manager Graham Potter’s preference for playing from the back suits Webster
Looking back on his first season at the highest level, Webster has enjoyed testing himself against the best and adjusting to the final step in a career that has now seen him play in all of England’s top five divisions.
All round strikers with the wide range of attributes to keep them constantly involved in a game like Wolves’s Raul Jimenez – ‘one of my strongest opponents’ – and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin impressed him as much as any of the leading lights of the competition.
There have been numerous ups for Webster, such as how much he has played, memorable wins and his three goals, especially one at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I had my whole family there and a few of them are Tottenham fans, so it made it even more special,” he said.
The defender enjoyed the goal he scored away from Tottenham earlier in the campaign
It is admirable that Webster does not hide from the few drawbacks that have been there.
“I’ve made some mistakes that will always happen,” said Webster, whose honesty and willingness to self-reflect stand out. “As a defender, you will always be faced with those challenges, but it’s about how you respond to them and I’ve been playing well since the restart.”
Throughout all of this, the support of manager Potter, who encouraged his defenders to stick to his philosophy, was to take responsibility if things never went according to plan and inspired further development from Webster, an English youth international with senior potential.
“Before coming to Brighton, I always hated giving the ball back to the goalkeeper because I thought it was so negative and I didn’t really want to do it because I wanted to be positive even if I gave the ball away,” he smiled .
“But the gaffer taught me that going back to the keeper can sometimes take the pressure off.
“Maty Ryan has played every game and is really good with his feet – keepers nowadays – so you have to trust it. I’d say I’ve brought that to my game quite a bit, trusting the keeper more often. ‘
Potter’s approach requires technique, courage and patience on the ball of those who are asked to carry it out. It can sometimes be a high risk, but perseverance also leads to a high reward.
Webster admits he made some mistakes, but managed to get them back
“Although you can’t do it every time, we trust that if we keep doing it, we will have a chance before the end of the game and it certainly did this year,” Webster said.
He has also discovered the difference since football returned, but without supporters.
“We want fans back in the stadiums because fans make football, but as you say, they get nervous and sometimes it can affect the players,” he says.
“We know what to do and how we want to try to build it, so I feel like we could have done that a bit more.
“When Maty waits about 60 seconds to take a goal kick, when the fans are there they start ‘oohing and aahing’ and it may force him to kick the ball. It can have that effect.
Since joining Brighton, Webster has not been impressed by players like Tottenham’s Dele Alli
“But we all definitely want the fans back as soon as possible. The Amex is special and we can’t wait to have everyone back. It was frustrating that we couldn’t celebrate with them as we were safe with a few more games to go. ‘
Brighton went into football suspension in March without a win in 2020.
But the lockdown period was one from which the club came out with great praise for their transparency, community work, and opposition to controversial plans to use neutral locations to complete the season.
Webster said, “The club’s performance during the closing period was great. As players, it was great because you want to be involved in a club that does the right things off the field and certainly did Brighton. ‘
The feel-good factor continued on the field, starting with an injury time win in their first Project Restart game against Arsenal and culminating in Monday’s survival seal against Newcastle.
Webster has revealed that he wants Brighton to finish in the top ten of the league next season
“I’ve worked all my life to get into the Premier League,” said Webster. “I want to stay in the Premier League as long as possible.
“I know a few people who left Bristol, like Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid, they went to Fulham and Cardiff, had a year and went back to the championship, which must have been difficult.
“I didn’t want that to happen to me. I’m absolutely buzzing about getting over the line. ‘
Now for the next phase of Webster and Brighton development.
“I just want to keep improving, playing as many matches as possible, getting this club as high in the league as possible and being very successful,” he said.
“We have done a few new signings, new players have arrived and the whole playing style has been completely different than before.
“It’s not easy when you switch. It takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.
“If we start next season, we want to be more successful and finish as high as possible. This club certainly has the ambition to finish in the top ten.
“If everything clicks next year, we have a good chance of that.”