Sami Hyypia brings touch of Roy to Brighton

Former Liverpool defender has high standards to suit an ambitious club

Sami Hyypia says: “I’m the kind of guy who likes challenges.” Which is just as well. Winning tackles and heading duels in a distinguished playing career was one thing, but next Saturday the former Liverpool and Finland defender faces a different kind of test in his first competitive match as manager of Brighton & Hove Albion, at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship.

The Seagulls have reached the play-off semi-finals in the past two seasons, losing under Gus Poyet in 2013 and Oscar Garcia last season, and Hyypia is under no illusions that even matching the top-six finishes of his Latin predecessors will be an uphill task.

Brighton are unquestionably “Premier League ready”, a phrase coined by Paul Barber, their chief executive, off the pitch. Their newly opened £30 million training ground also houses an academy which was recently awarded Category One status, and the Amex Stadium has hosted the highest average gates in the Championship for the past two seasons.

But both Poyet and Garcia hinted at dissatisfaction with the playing budget, and Financial Fair Play rules and the absence of Premier League parachute payments restrict what Hyypia can do to strengthen a squad hit by the departures of player-of-the-season Matthew Upson and top scorer Leo Ulloa.

Reinvesting some of the initial £8m received for Ulloa, including replacing his goals, is a priority for Hyypia. “We are not ready,” he admitted. “I’m expecting that we’ll still bring two, three or four players in and the process of signing players is a bit of a new thing for me, because [in his first job at Bayer Leverkusen] in Germany I had little to say about these things, I wasn’t a lot involved. I didn’t realise what kind of process it is and everyone wants to put the prices as high as possible.

“I know now that it’s not gonna happen in a day or two. We are competing with clubs that have maybe more assets than we have. I know now about Financial Fair Play and these things. That makes it harder.”

Offers have been tabled for striker Sam Baldock from Bristol City and midfielder Adam Clayton from Huddersfield Town. Meanwhile, despite a new formation aimed at speeding up the laborious transition from defence to attack under Oscar, his team were exposed as very much a work in progress in a 3-1 friendly defeat by Southampton last week.

“We saw how difficult it is to play against a team that switches play very quickly. That was actually the plan that we should play,” Hyypia said. “The positive is that our players saw how difficult it is to defend.”

Not that the players need much convincing. Aaron Hughes, signed on a free transfer from Queens Park Rangers to replace Upson, says Hyypia is “very relaxed, communicates very well, which is a huge thing”. He added: “He’s very confident, very sure of himself, knows what he wants and demands quality in training sessions and expects it every day.”

The Northern Ireland defender detects the influence of his former manager at Fulham, Roy Hodgson, who also managed Hyypia with Finland, in his “meticulous” approach. “Roy was brilliant at that. Sometimes it was repetitive, and we were doing the same things, but you saw the success we had at Fulham and I see some of the same things here, making sure everything is done properly day in, day out.”

Some testimonial for a 40-year-old manager in only his second job. His first was at Leverkusen, where he arrived as a player in 2009 after a trophy-laden decade at Anfield. He was offered the manager’s chair at the end of the 2011-12 season despite lacking coaching qualifications.

The gamble paid off as Leverkusen qualified for the Champions’ League in 2013 and topped the Bundesliga last season, but he fell back to earth in the spring when a run of one win in 10 games led to the sack.

“It might sound scary to jump to that level right away, but I have no regrets,” he said. “The last two months there I think I learned so much. Every manager, every coach needs to go through that kind of period.”

He will hope to avoid too many repeats at Brighton, whose chairman, Tony Bloom, sold him on the club’s ambition, which is to reach the Premier League whatever the financial restrictions, an aim underpinned by the impressive new infrastructure he has bankrolled.

“I think if I’d stayed in Germany I would have had to wait until October, November for the first manager to be kicked out and I would get my chance,” Hyypia said. “But when I talked to the chairman and Paul Barber, they convinced me that Brighton was a great place to come and it’s a great club. Hopefully we’ll do everything we can to fulfil that ambition. That is the challenge for me.”

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker