Well, well, well.
This is the second piece of writing I’ve done on The Albion today so it’s lucky that I’m off work and the kids have gone to Lapland UK with their Mum. The first hasn’t yet seen the light of day because it was a preview of our home game with Reading for their excellent site The Tilehurst End. One of their questions was as below which I reproduce here as, I suspect, it is no longer relevant and I will be sent a new question.
How much time has Sami Hyppia got left to turn things around?
All the time in the world according to Tony Bloom and Paul Barber who have repeatedly stated he’s here to stay and we ought to get used to it. I can’t wait for another half season of watching full backs pretending to be wingers, attacking midfielders pretending to be holding midfielders, wingers pretending to be attacking midfielders, Gary Gardner pretending to be a footballer and David Stockdale pretending to be fit.
That in a paragraph summed up everything I had against Sami’s tenure as manager. Not him as a person I hasten to add, this is purely a professional opinion. If Sami really chose to go today then he is a very honourable man indeed for he attended yesterday’s Junior Seagulls Christmas Party and was, by all accounts, a big hit with the kids.
The tactics. It was all about the tactics. This is why I’ve been on the Hyypia Out ticket for quite a while. When it comes to “having a poor summer” we pretty much wrote the book this year. However, no matter how poor you think the players brought in were the way they have been used has been nothing short of shocking. Sam Baldock needs to play off a big typical striker. We didn’t have one until Darren Bent arrived whereupon Baldock promptly injured himself (Sami is also unlucky – cf Cardiff at home and Bruno getting himself sent off on Saturday). Meanwhile you never know who’d start next in a nod to the rotation system that worked fine at mega rich Chelsea but does not, perhaps, work so well in the Championship. Burnley, last season’s surprise package, did what they did by keeping a settled side.
Actually it wasn’t all about the tactics, it was also about the wins. Sami couldn’t get any, at least in the league. Three wins all season have come on the back of a dreadful winless spell in Germany. Sami has, sadly, forgotten how to win football games. If there was a Plan B and C we never quite saw it. Instead, the second we take a lead our confidence seems to end up shot rather than boosted and it becomes just a matter of time before the opposition equalize.
This is far from the end of the omnishambles however. In fact, it could just be the beginning. By stubbornly sticking with Sami over the past few weeks Tony Bloom has ensured his departure came with the Owner on the other side of the world playing poker. Of course new job interviews etc can be done over Skype and the world never really stops these days but , still, that face to face connection isn’t there. Should Nathan Jones be put in a caretaker role nothing really will have changed (except we might see if he prefers Oscar’s tactics to Sami’s). We will go in to Boxing Day four points off safety and with David Burke about to enter a January window but with no idea of the style of player required. If this leads to yet more loan players then, frankly, we’re screwed.
The irony is Sami seemed to have ridden out the storm. While I was never in the “in” camp we were, by all accounts, very good and not a little unlucky at Wolves. We were getting to a time when changing manager might have been counter productive.
And there’s another issue. First Gus Poyet reportedly told the club he wanted to go just as we looked certain for promotion. Then Oscar dumped us at the end of a single season. Now Sami has waited until the transfer window is all but open to make his leap. The Albion now look for their third manager since Poyet with the club still all over the place.
Who next? Current betting shows Tim Sherwood and Sven Goran Erikson as favourites. Widely rubbished on forums Erikson would certainly know how to get the best out of the players tactically and may have the contacts to help David Burke out of his current malaise, Aston Villa contacts aside (though they can have Gardner back tomorrow). Sherwood meanwhile, being good mates with Paul Barber, would cement the latter’s position at the club. Despite the “Barber Out” post the other week this may not actually be such a bad thing. In theory it would re-unite and stabilise the club while unmitigated failure of a Sherwood plan could see both going.
Interestingly The Argus doesn’t even mention the Swedish former England coach in its “who do you want for next manager” poll. Their list, as well as Sherwood, contains Chris Hughton, Brian McDermott, Tony Pulis, Tim Sherwood and Gianfranco Zola. Whether it has been based on fact or just pulled from the dark recesses of Andy Naylor’s mind we may never know, but of that list Zola is huge mates with Poyet which would make him unlikely to link up here, while Pulis left Palace due to recruitment issues at Palace that were arguably not as bad as our own.
One thing’s for sure. It’s never dull being a Brighton fan. Right, time to re-write my Tilehurst End piece……