25 Oct 2007

In defence of Sami Hyypia

Sami Hyypia has become the latest ‘fan’ scapegoat in the wake of Liverpool’s woeful capitulation to Besiktas in the Champions League…

With two own goals in as many games, Hyypia is an easy target for fans and the press when it comes to sating the unstoppable compulsion to blame one player for everything.

The personal abuse floating around various Liverpool forums is indicative of the pathetic new breed of Liverpool fan, i.e. shallow sniping halfwits, with no concept of fairness or objectivity; no sense of context and no real understanding of what Liverpool FC is all about...

These fans will try and convince you that Hyypia was at fault for both of Besiktas’ goals. Of course, to the fair minded observer, this is utter garbage. The fact is, Jamie Carragher’s comical failure to clear the ball put Liverpool under pressure for the first goal.

Hyypia reacted to Carragher’s error by trying to block Serdar Ozkan’s shot. Unfortunately, it ricocheted off him and ended up in the net. How this makes Hyypia to blame for the goal is beyond me. He would not have been in that position if Carragher had done his job.

Jamie Carragher’s form this season has been woeful, and his uncertainty at the heart of the Liverpool defence has been the main cause of Liverpool’s defensive frailty.

Of course, you cannot say this out loud because Carragher is a homegrown player and criticism of local lads is strictly prohibited.

Bona fide Liverpool legend

Irrespective of the baseless criticism, Sami Hyypia is a Liverpool Legend, it’s as simple as that. Furthermore, of the current Liverpool squad, he is the only player worthy of being labeled as such. Hyppia has joined the ranks of the elite, and sits alongside greats like Liddell, Yeats, Smith, Hughes, Dalglish, Rush, Souness and Barnes.

This contention will inevitably be greeted with ridicule, and cries of ‘but what about Gerrard!’ will reverberate. Well – In order to be a Liverpool Legend, there are certain qualities all players must possess, such as professionalism, humility and class - things Gerrard lacks. Sami has these qualities in spades and this is what makes his a ‘real’ Liverpool player.

Hyypia embodies everything that makes Liverpool great. Quite apart from being one of the greatest defenders ever to grace the Anfield turf, the big Finn oozes real class. He is completely unaffected by the egocentric excesses of the modern footballer and is fantastic ambassador for Liverpool Football club.

In addition, Sami has arguably been Liverpool’s most consistent player over the last 10 years, with his massive influence an integral component in making Liverpool the most successful English club of the noughties.

Hyypia has lost some of his sharpness and pace, but this is only to be expected with age. His game was never based on pace anyway - it was and is based on intelligence and unparallelled positional excellence. Despite opinions to the contrary, Hyypia continues to perform admirably when called upon, and a fair analysis of Liverpool’s performances so far this season will back this up.

A true footballing gentleman

Liverpool are in a terrible run of form at the moment, and the fans always need a whipping boy, bit it is the whole team that is playing badly, not just one man. Hyypia has basically been targeted to deflect criticism away from the untouchables, i.e. Gerrard and Carragher, two players who deserve the lion’s share of blame for Liverpool’s current demise. It's an all too familiar pattern and will continue as the season wears on.

It doesn’t matter though – no amount of childish sniping can change Sami Hyypia’s immense contribution to Liverpool. Tragically, Hyypia is part of a dying breed – the true footballing gentlemen: affable, unassuming, approachable, friendly and the consummate professional. A world away from selfish,'me me me' attitude of the likes of Steven Gerrard and 'Cashley' Cole.

It will be a sad day for Liverpool FC and football when the Mighty Finn hangs up his boots.


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