Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi has warned his side not to let increased expectations distract them from continuing to make progress this season.
The Seagulls return to Premier League action against Bournemouth today (Sunday 24 September), having lost a first European tie 3-2 at home to Greek champions AEK Athens on Thursday night.
While the mood at the Amex Stadium might have been somewhat flat after the Europa League defeat, De Zerbi feels there are plenty of reasons to be positive for the challenges ahead.
Brighton have again produced a string of impressive displays in the Premier League, recovering from defeat at home to West Ham United to beat Newcastle United and then Manchester United before their European debut.
De Zerbi wants his players to remember how they got themselves into such a solid position.
He said: “If Brighton win at Manchester United 3-1 – scoring a goal after I don’t know how many passes – if we won against Newcastle also 3-1, we know we have a lot of expectations.
“But we have to be honest with ourselves, to be proud, because we deserved those wins and to reach the Europa League. In ourselves, nothing has changed.
“We have to be focused on the improvement, on the quality of the players and of our (style of) play. We cannot suffer from the expectations.”
De Zerbi told a press conference: “Thursday was an historic day for us (as a club) and we wanted to make everyone happy but we have to be proud for the way we played.”
Bournemouth have slowly developed under new manager Andoni Iraola, building a three-game unbeaten run through all competitions after last weekend’s goalless draw at home to Chelsea.
De Zerbi said: “Bournemouth are better than last season. They have brought in (Justin) Kluivert and (Luis) Sinisterra, very good players.
“The others in their squad are still good players – (Dominic) Solanke, (Philip) Billing, (Ryan) Christie and (Lloyd) Kelly.
“We have to play of our best if we want to win, but it will be difficult.”
De Zerbi added: “Bournemouth might be down the table (in 15th) but the difficulty of the game is the same.
“They want to win their first (league) game but we also want to reach 15 points in the table.”
Brighton could be without captain Lewis Dunk once again. The defender missed the AEK game with an unspecified muscular problem and De Zerbi will not take any risks on his fitness.
Midfielders Pascal Gross and James Milner will also be assessed while Republic of Ireland forward Evan Ferguson could return after illness.
On-loan Barcelona forward Ansu Fati made his first start against AEK but may have to be content with a place back on the bench again.
De Zerbi, who made seven changes on Thursday night from the side which won at Old Trafford, said: “I was pleased with Ansu’s performance. He played well.
“Everyone has big expectations from Ansu but he has not to feel more pressure (from us). He has to enjoy his football and show his qualities.
“We love him and we want to help him to reach an upgrade for him but for us as well because if he plays in the right way, we can win more games.”
Brighton and Hove Albion are due to kick off at 2pm against Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium, in Falmer.