It could have been the week of the season. First on Wednesday the Champions League match against Paris St. Germain and then on Saturday the Bundesliga top match in Munich against Bayern.
In the winter break Bayer Leverkusen were second in the Bundesliga table and quite optimistic for the rest of the season.
They had the German Cup quarter final match against the second division team of Kaiserslautern and the Champions League quarter finals before their eyes. In the Bundesliga table they were on the second position with seven points behind Bayern and four points ahead of Mönchengladbach.
Leverkusen’s manager Rudi Völler announced at that time that they were keen to extend the contract with their coach Sami Hyypia, the architect of their successful team.
About a month ago Voeller said about the former Liverpool defender, who had played 10 years at the Anfield Road, that “he has done it excellent so far. He is a little bit different than other coaches. Many coaches are at the same time entertainers. Sami does it different, his way, and he does it really good.”
In football things can change fast. Since then Leverkusen have lost three of their last four Bundesliga matches and were also defeated by Kaiserslautern in the German Cup and by Paris in the Champions League. Especially the 0-4 against the French Champions at home demonstrated that Leverkusen and their Finnish coach have still a long way to go before becoming really competitive in Europe.
So what does this series of negative results mean for Hyypiä? Does he have to fear for his job?
Not as long as he’s in Leverkusen. There is hardly any pressure on him because nobody expects a title anyway. The team has a lot of good players and two of their key players, striker Stefan Kiessling and Arsenal linked midfielder Lars Bender, have extended their contracts recently until 2017 and 2019, but their squad is still not as good as Bayern’s or Dortmund’s.
In fact, Leverkusen is probably the only team in the world that is proud to have ended up so often in the second place which is why they have patented the name “Vizekusen”. In the Bundesliga for instance they became five times since 1997 second in the table without winning a single title.
Hyypiä couldn’t have looked for a better team to start his coaching career. In his first season last year he was assisted by an experienced youth coach and from this season on he is now the only one in charge of the team. It makes the impression that he hasn’t figured out yet in which direction he wants to go with his coaching career.
He could probably become Finnish national coach for a lifetime if he decided to have a relaxed job without any pressure or eventually move to the Premier League if he turns out to be ambitious enough. So far he has proved that he has the potential to become a great coach but that he still has to learn a lot.
His balanced character together with his patience and experience will definitely help him to overcome critical moments in his career like the current situation with Leverkusen. The squad there is also strong enough to regularly qualify for the European competitions and maybe one day Sami Hyypiä will want to find out how it is to actually have the chance to win a title with your team.
It’s hard to imagine that he could resist if one day someone from the Anfield calls him. The Bundesliga would definitely miss this likeable boss, compared to so many egocentric protagonists in professional football.