Jun 7, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT
Former Liverpool great Sami Hyypia will try to comeback from his disappointment at Bayer Leverkusen with an English return. Two months after being fired from his first managerial appointment, the former Finland international has been hired by Premier League aspirants Brighton & Hove Albion, giving the 40-year-old a quick return to the sidelines.
Hyypiä lost his place at the BayArena after the Champions League participant nose-dived in the Bundesliga’s second half – a slump that nearly cost the team a shot at returning to Europe’s premier club tournament. On April 5, just over one-year after being named one of Leverkusen’s caretakers, Hyypiä was dismissed from his first full managerial job. Taking 16 of 18 points after Hyypiä’s departure, Leverkusen would go on to salvage its Champions League hopes, finishing one point ahead of fifth place Wolfsburg.
With Brighton, however, Hyppiä will have a chance to restore his managerial momentum. In three seasons in England’s second division, the Seagulls have posted 10th, fourth, and sixth place finishes, losing in the Championship’s promotion playoffs each of the last two seasons. Should the nine-time Finnish Footballer of the Year get Brighton over the top, he’ll not only earn a Premier League return but the first major accomplishment of his nascent managerial career.
“I am absolutely thrilled by this appointment; Brighton & Hove Albion are an ambitious club and I am very pleased to have been given this opportunity.
“I’ve held extensive talks with the chairman Tony Bloom and chief executive Paul Barber. I have looked at the club from top to bottom and I am very impressed by what I’ve seen at all levels.
“I’ve seen the Amex Stadium and the club’s new training ground and they are amongst the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. I’ve also already met some of the key staff including Nathan Jones, the club’s head of football David Burke, and Dr Helge Riepenhoff, head of medical and sports science, and I am very much looking forward to working with all of them.“The chairman is ambitious and for me that is absolutely key. I am now looking forward to the challenge ahead and our aim is to take the club forward to the next level.”
After one year on the job in Leverkusen, Hyypiä still a relatively unproven managerial commodity. At times, he seemed to get the most out of his enviable attacking trio: Stefan Kießling, Son Heung-Min, and Sidney Sam. In big games, however, Hyypiä was unable to replicate that danger.
After a strong start to the 2013-14 campaign hinted Leverkusen might keep up with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, a lack of effective ideas, particularly during the absence of Sam, left Hyypiä looking over his head. At the beginning of his managerial career, the top of the Bundesliga proved too high for the recently retired star.
In England, in the second tier, Hyypiä may have more time to learn on the job. The question is how much time he’ll get. After coming so close to promotion the last two years, Brighton’s management may see the Premier League as a defining goal. The talent on the team, however, hints Brighton may need more heroics like this season’s late surge to return to the playoff.
If Hyypiä doesn’t keep Brighton in the top six, will he get time to finish the job? Given his three-year deal, Hyypiä should get time to frame his team. Eventually, he’ll be expected to make another Premier League push.
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