Sami Hyypia's Albion spell assessed

Sami Hyypiä
Sami Hyypiä

Sami Hyypia did not enjoy the best of spells as manager.

Sami Hyypia did not enjoy the best of spells as manager of Brighton and Hove Albion.

The imposing former Liverpool defender arrived at the Amex looking to rebuild his managerial career after being shown the door by Bayer Leverkusen and his appointment was well-received by the majority of Albion fans.

Within a matter of months, however, he had become the accepted scapegoat for the Seagulls' wretched start to the season. During and after the Albion's recent home defeat by Millwall, large swathes of Seagulls fans called for his immediate sacking. Those who had previously spoken out in his defence were suddenly silenced. He looked to be a dead man walking.

A hard-fought point at Wolves at the weekend during which his team showed genuine improvement from their previous outing could not save him and Hyypia handed in his resignation today (Monday). The Brighton board reluctantly accepted it and Tony Bloom et al began searching for the club's fourth manager of the Amex era.

That something needed to change was beyond argument. The Albion squad was not as good as the one enjoyed by Oscar Garcia last season. But it wasn't as bad as the Seagulls' lowly league position suggested. Hyypia may have had to make do without the departed Leo Ulloa, Matthew Upson, Will Buckley, Stephen Ward et al but the players at his disposal should have been enough for at least mid table mediocrity. A mixture of initial tactical stubbornness was followed by naivety in recent weeks - such as starting the game away at Derby County without a recognised defensive midfield player.

Hyypia did not have the best of squad's at his disposal, but equally, he wasn't getting anywhere near the best out of them.

An over-reliance on loan signings, an inability to establish a competitive midfield pairing and a lack of clinic finishing combined to cause major problems for Hyypia and his team. Injuries to key players like Andrew Crofts, Kazenga Lua Lua and, more recently, Gordon Greer did not exactly help either.

The Seagulls summer recruitment drive - led by David Burke and the club's scouting network - failed to deliver any regular starters for Hyypia's team apart from David Stockdale, the 'keeper signed from Fulham for an estimated £1  million. Paddy McCourt, Adrian Colunga, Chris O'Grady, Nzuzi Toko and others could not establish themselves as genuine starting players in Hyypia's preferred system, forcing the Albion to turn to an array of loan signings to fill the first 11.

There is also a feeling among sections of the Albion fanbase that the Finn would have found life easier had Sammy Lee not opted to join Southampton rather than take up the offered post of assistant manager at the Amex. Hyypia surely would have benefited from an experienced figure alongside him.

Despite the improvement at Wolves, a change at the top was probably needed. Hyypia's job seemed untenable after recent poor performances, particularly at the Seagulls' Amex home where the atmosphere had become increasingly hostile towards the manager. That Hyypia chose to jump before he was pushed shows he is an honourable man. It is just a shame for all concerned that it did not work out for him in Sussex.

Any supporters hoping his departure will result in an immediate about-turn of the Albion's fortunes may find themselves disappointed. Finding a high-profile candidate to replace him will be easier said than done, particularly if the existing structures stay in place.

The chairman, however, has shown he is willing to back his manager in the transfer market. Elliott Bennett and Darren Bent were both welcome and surprising additions to the squad, albeit on loan. The suspicion is Bloom could sanction major surgery on the team in January, no doubt with the added input of whoever finds themselves in charge come the New Year.

A host of names have already been mentioned and Albion fans on social media seem to be backing a move for Tony Pulis. Whether or not the manager would be willing to drop down to the Championship following a much-heralded successful spell in the Premier League with Crystal Palace remains to be seen. It isn't hard to imagine him holding out for a top flight position once the first round of Premier League sackings take place.

The likes of Chris Hughton, Nigel Adkins, Karl Robinson and Brian McDermott appear far more realistic options.

Bloom backed the wrong horse in Hyypia but his previous appointments have been successful. Seagulls fans will be hoping his choice of Hyypia was little more than a blip and that the new manager can re-establish the Albion as competitive Championship outfit before building on the currently squandered momentum of consecutive play-off appearances.