Sheffield Wednesday: Championship will shock Seagulls chief, says Gray

Sami Hyypia, the recently appointed Manager of  Brighton & Hove Albion FC.
Sami Hyypia, the recently appointed Manager of Brighton & Hove Albion FC.
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Stuart Gray, the Owls head coach, reckons the intensity of the Championship will surprise new Brighton manager Sami Hyypia.

Former Finland international Hyypia will take charge of his first competitive match this weekend as Gray’s side travel to the Amex Stadium.

Hyypia, appointed Brighton boss in June, spent a decade of his playing career at Liverpool, winning the FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup and Champions League.

The centre-back eventually retired from playing three years ago and his first management job was at at Bayer Leverkusen. However, Hyypia was sacked by the German Bundesliga side last April after a run of one win in 10 matches.

Brighton, who have reached the play-off semi-finals in the past two seasons, handed Hyypia a three-year deal.

Gray told The Star: “Sami [Hyypia] played in the Premier League so he knows quite a lot about English football already.

“I think the Championship will surprise him, given the intensity and quality of the opposition and the amount of games that are played.

“I’m sure Sami will have his own playing style and will want to stamp his mark on the team.”

Hyypia has reshaped his squad over the summer. Player-of-the-season Matthew Upson and leading goal-scorer Leo Ulloa left, moving to Premier League newcomers Leicester City.

As part of the rebuilding process, Hyypia swooped on former Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Rotherham United forward Chris O’Grady for an undisclosed fee. The 28-year-old struck 15 goals in 40 matches for the Reds last term as they failed to beat the drop.

Hyypia said: “Chris is a strong, physical presence. He gives us something different to the other strikers we already have here.”

Goalkeeper David Stockdale, defender Aaron Hughes and midfielder Nzuzi Toko have also joined Hyypia’s revolution. The Brighton chief is keen to bring in further reinforcements before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

“We have our targets. Sometimes it takes time to get the right players in,” he told a fans’ forum.

“We don’t want to sign players who are average. I would like to have the targets who really strengthen the squad and make it better.”

Hyypia continued: “Just signing numbers is not a good idea. That’s why it might take a little bit longer.

“I guess every manager wants the best possible squad to work with to get success.”

Wednesday have sold out their initial 2,500 ticket allocation for their opening day trip to Brighton.

The club received a final batch of 250 tickets on Tuesday and they are currently on general sale.