Seagulls supporters were given their first glimpse of Sami Hyypiä’s Brighton and Hove Albion.
Seagulls supporters were given their first glimpse of Sami Hyypiä’s Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend - and the eagle-eyed Albionite will have noticed a slight change in tactics.
The Albion comfortably dispatched near-neighbours Lewes FC 5-0 in the first of their pre-season friendlies, played in front of a sell-out crowd of around 2,400 at the Dripping Pan.
But whereas his predecessor Oscar Garcia nearly always favoured a 4231 formation, Hyypiä certainly appeared to lean towards a 4321 line-up.
The Seagulls looked to play a higher tempo game than Amex regulars have grown accustomed to, with less slow build-up across the back four. But that isn’t to say the approach was any less methodical. New signing Toko Nzuzi was deployed in the centre of a midfield three in a position which early indications suggest could be key under Hyypiä.
The two Brighton full-backs pushed wide and into advanced positions when in possession, with Nzuzi dropping deeper to collect the ball, control the tempo and change the angle of attack.
That emphasis on providing width from the full-back positions allowed a shift in focus for the side’s traditional wingers.
Both Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua Lua started the game but neither played out wide – instead tucked inside in central positions supporting centre forward Leo Ulloa.
Having seen the success of Arjen Robben and other jet-heeled players operating in similar roles in Brazil, it could be Hyypiä tries to get the best out of Lua Lua by using him
in the modern number 10 slot. In fact, it was from exactly that area that the exciting attacking talent drove home an impressive long-distance strike against Lewes.
A more central attacking pair behind, if he stays, Leo Ulloa, would also benefit Craig Mackail-Smith. The striker looked lively in the second half at Lewes as the main striker but has previously said he would like to play with Ulloa, rather than instead of him.
It may have only been a taster of the tactical tinkering likely to be enjoyed under Hyypiä, but the signs are that the new manager might be about to provide the impetus and attacking element too-often missing under Oscar.