It was only a matter of time, really, before Sami Hyypia retired, after 2008-09's nearly there season ended with Liverpool not only losing the league to United, but also losing their flying Finn to Leverkusen of the Bundesliga as he sought more consistent football in the twilight of his career. After a first season in Germany as a regular starter and one of the league's best defenders, his second season saw his action again grow more limited as it had towards the end of his time with Liverpool, and today he made it official, deciding it was time to retire from professional football...
* Sami Hyypia arrived at Liverpool from Willem II of the Eredivisie in the summer of 1999 after being scouted by Liverpool's first towering colossus, Ron Yeats, and five years after being turned down by Newcastle in his first tryout with a Premier League side. Largely an unknown to the fans and costing only £2.5M, he went on to score his first goal for Liverpool against Manchester United in his sixth match, and soon after anchored Liverpool's treble winning side in 2001. After that there would be the Champions League triumph in Istanbul, a match won during a stretch that saw Hyypia play 57 European matches in a row over seven seasons. He would go on to win Finland's footballer of the year award in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008 for his work with Liverpool, and in the end the 2008-09 season's 4-1 thumping of Manchester United at Old Trafford would provide a kind of symbolic bookend to his Liverpool career, one more stellar display for the classy defender--though this time it would take an injury to Alvaro Arbeloa in warm up to force his late inclusion.
He will go down as arguably the club's best defender in the Premier League era, and many will continue to hope that he one day makes a return to the club in some capacity. In the meantime, however, he will join the coaching staff of Finland's national team, and next season he will also work as an assistant manager with Leverkusen. We wish him the best going forward.
* Meanwhile over on the Well Red site, Gareth Roberts takes a look at some of the ways football has changed since Dalglish was last in charge:
The face of the football fan has changed since Dalglish last paced the corridors of power on Anfield Road. A Sky Sports generation of supporter has been born and, just like the motto of its rolling sports news channel, they demand “first fast now.”
Impatience is fuelled by crisis-hungry reportage and social media--only bad news is good news for populist journalists while the internet has given an unregulated platform to the ill-informed. So Liverpool's defeat away to a resurgent West Ham prompted talk of Dalglish's “bubble bursting”, of his “honeymoon period being over”.
To many, managers are only as good as their last result and anything but a convincing victory requires blame to be apportioned and scapegoats to be sought. Yet what is required at Liverpool now is patience.
He also talks of the ways Dalglish himself has changed, the ways he has stayed the same--and the ways that his appointment has seen some of the values Liverpool seemed to lose under first Hicks and Gillett's ownership and later Roy Hodgson's management restored. It's a good read, so, you know, the link's up above if you haven't already clicked it.
* And over on Oh You Beauty, Nate breaks out the chalkboards to compare the performances of Glen Johnson and John Flanagan after a match that saw them swap flanks at the half after Flanagan's occasional troubles in shutting down Newcastle's Gutierez lead to an early yellow card for the young fullback. As well as Flanagan has played of late, then, Newcastle was an example of the dangers of having an inexperienced fullback starting week in and week out so that opponents begin to take his inclusion as a given and look to exploit he inexperience.
The passing charts also show something less obvious when it comes to Glen Johnson, namely that while on the right he appears to have put in a fairly standard performance for an attacking fullback, his passing while on the left--at least in midfield and the attacking third--more resembles that of an outside midfielder in a possession-based outfit. The chalkboards do reinforce the impression that he was effective in the first half, perhaps more effective than he otherwise has been to date on the left, but it does look more the work of an inverted winger than a proper fullback.
Well, that's your news and notes for Monday. Though if you still need some more to read there's today's early offering that breaks down the movement for two of Liverpool's goals against Newcastle that you may have missed. If you've already read that, too, well, have an in the meantime you probably knew was coming all along...