Sami Hyypia says that Liverpool must do a lot better next season. The Liverpool vice-captain was talking to the official Liverpool website about the problems Liverpool have had in the league.
The Finnish international feels that although it can be explained in part by new staff and an unprecedented number of injuries, there is more to it than that: "We have a new manager and new players and it takes time to adapt to the Premiership. Something has gone a little bit wrong and we have to correct it for next season. You always say clubs should be able to cope with injuries but we have had so many injuries this season it has been unbelievable. Of course they affect you a little bit but that can’t be the only reason that we have been inconsistent."
Sami says there’ll be some serious thinking going on over the summer: "Something has gone wrong and we have to analyse that and do a lot better next season."
Hyppia had been Liverpool’s first-choice defender throughout Houllier’s reign, and probably thought that would continue under Benitez. Jamie Carragher’s excellent form in central midfield though has turned Hyypia into the second-choice centre-back now. When Hyypia was injured earlier in the season, Pellegrino took his place, and Hyppia wasn’t put straight back into the team. He was then linked with a move away from the club before regaining his place after some impressive Champions League performances. When asked about his own season he was reluctant to analyse how he’d done: "I don’t know, it can always be better. I wouldn’t like to analyse my personal season because it’s how the team performs."
He continued: "That should be the one thing you can analyse, criticise and praise. We can’t be 100 per cent happy with how the season has gone but we have a big game to come and everybody should be up for the Champions League final."
Hyppia reflected on the confidence Liverpool have in themselves for the big night in Istanbul: "We believe we can do it. It would be great to win and even more great to bring the cup back to Liverpool and let everybody see it."
Hyypia’s confidence in Liverpool’s chances increased on Sunday after watching Frenchman Djibril Cisse scoring a brace in his first start since breaking his leg. Now Benitez has to choose who plays up front in Istanbul, a real luxury after all the injuries this season: ""The gaffer has a good problem for the final now. Djibril has been very lively since he came back and his two goals were very good."
One of Cisse’s great attributes is his speed, something which pundits claim Liverpool need against an "aging" Milan defence. Hyppia says that Cisse is a threat for any defender: "As a centre-half, you never like to play against pace and he’s shown with his speed he’s always a threat. If we can learn to use him even better than we do at the moment, he could be even more effective for us."
Cisse’s lack of appearances due to his injury could work in Liverpool’s favour says Sami: "He’s an unknown quantity to many of us as much as AC Milan, and that can be to our advantage. Everyone wants to play in the final. It’s not going to be easy, so we need players like Djibril who are very fresh and haven’t had many games this season. He has a great opportunity to show what he can do."
Nobody expected Cisse to play again this season – in fact at one point people wondered if he’d ever play again. Liverpool’s club doctor had to manipulate Cisse’s leg in the treatment room at Ewood Park and this saved Cisse from a possible amputation. On Sunday he looked like a player that had never been injured: "It says a lot about his character to come back from such an injury. He’s also had great treatment. You can see he’s an athlete and that helped his recovery. He may have lost some strength in his leg but he’s got it back."
Hyppia is hoping that the story continues to a happy ending: "I’ve never experienced a long term injury so I don’t know how it feels, but it must be devastating to see your team-mates playing and training while you’re in the gym. All credit to him. It would be a fairytale if he scored in the final."