Hyypia has nice problem after Albion's transfer flurry

Joe Bennett, one of Albion's 11 new signings

Joe Bennett, one of Albion's 11 new signings

First published in Sport by , Chief sports reporter

There has never been anything quite like it at Albion.

Eleven players have been signed to replace the 12 released, returned to their clubs after loan spells or sold since the end of last season.

The capture of Sam Baldock from Bristol City completed a flurry of seven signings in 12 days, which began almost a week into the new season with the arrival on loan from Liverpool of Joao Teixeira.

With all due respect to Nzuzi Toko, Aaron Hughes, Chris O'Grady and David Stockdale, it is the Seagulls' version of the Magnificent Seven which has changed results and the mood, captured the imagination of supporters.

It began with the impacts made by Teixeira and Danny Holla at Leeds. Aston Villa pair Joe Bennett and Gary Gardner, Paddy McCourt, Adrian Colunga and Baldock have also been added since then.

The vast majority of the signings, including Hughes and Stockdale, bring to varying eyecatching degrees experience of top flight football in England, Holland and Spain.

The most intriguing aspect of the squad rebuild under Sami Hyypia is the shift of philosophy up front.

There is no longer an Ulloa, Murray or Zamora, a target man-type focal point of the attack.

Baldock, Colunga and Craig Mackail-Smith are all well under six-foot. The target man alternative, O'Grady, is likely to be used from the bench rather than the start.

The abundance of vertically challenged, nippy, darting options fits in with the Finn's wingerless systems.

We have already seen 4-1-2-3, 4-1-2-2-1, 4-4-1-1. Hyypia is combining Southern European technical accomplishment in possession and mobility with a more Northern European tempo and directness.

The width is provided by advanced full-backs, the chances for a narrower strike force by the players who like to operate, in modern coaching speak, 'between the lines', exploiting pockets of space in the area dividing the opposition defence and midfield.

Hyypia's choices there are now multiple. In fact, his choices are plentiful everywhere.

Discerning the pecking order for the back six looks relatively straightforward. Stockdale in goal, Bruno or Inigo Calderon at right-back, any combination of Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk, Aaron Hughes in the centre, backed up by Vitalijs Maksimenko.

Bennett at left-back with Adam Chicksen as cover, Holla the holding midfielder, Rohan Ince followed by Toko to deputise.

Now it gets complicated. Gardner, Jake Forster-Caskey, Andrews Crofts, Kemy Agustien and Dale Stephens - once the latter pair are fit - will be vying for what can best be described as orthodox midfield spots.

The attack-minded and attacking mix is frighteningly extensive: Teixeira, McCourt, the currently sidelined Kazenga LuaLua and Solly March, Baldock, Colunga, Mackail-Smith, O'Grady.

Albion's transfer business appears to be high in both quantity and quality, encouraging the belief they have now assembled a squad capable of challenging for the play-offs again after those disturbing opening defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham.

There are tougher tests to come, tougher than tomorrow's visitors to the Amex, Charlton, who have started the season surprisingly well.

Late September to early December will tell us more, a period in which Albion tackle Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Watford, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Blackburn, Norwich and Derby.

The depth in the squad will enable the element of rotation Hyypia prefers to cope with the exhausting demands of the Championship and bursts of midweek fixtures, accentuated by the international breaks.

Try picking the team to face Charlton. Tricky isn't it, especially that front five?

That is Hyypia's problem. And it's a nice one to have.

Comments (20)

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11:28am Fri 29 Aug 14

dave from bexill says...

Nice, interesting piece Andy Naylor. Lots of food for thought for Sami re selection. Puts into perspective how important the bench is now, rather than just the starting line up
Nice, interesting piece Andy Naylor. Lots of food for thought for Sami re selection. Puts into perspective how important the bench is now, rather than just the starting line up dave from bexill
  • Score: 20

11:29am Fri 29 Aug 14

SMF20 says...

It is a nice one to have for sure.

My team tomorrow would look like this.

Stockdale
Bruno
Greer
Dunk
Bennett
Holla
McCourt
Gardner
Tex
CMS
Colunga.

Really looking forward to tomorrow's game
It is a nice one to have for sure. My team tomorrow would look like this. Stockdale Bruno Greer Dunk Bennett Holla McCourt Gardner Tex CMS Colunga. Really looking forward to tomorrow's game SMF20
  • Score: 13

12:00pm Fri 29 Aug 14

fratsomrover says...

SMF20 wrote:
It is a nice one to have for sure.

My team tomorrow would look like this.

Stockdale
Bruno
Greer
Dunk
Bennett
Holla
McCourt
Gardner
Tex
CMS
Colunga.

Really looking forward to tomorrow's game
I echo your sentiments, but I would imagine that after all the effort to acquire him, Baldock is likely to start.
Probably alongside CMS after his last display with one of them being replaced by Colunga once we are 3 goals up !!!!!
I think the back four picks itself and it will be tough to leave out JFC, Crofts and Ince, but such is our wealth of talent in midfield, it is difficult to say who will start.
Nice to feel optimistic isn't it ?
[quote][p][bold]SMF20[/bold] wrote: It is a nice one to have for sure. My team tomorrow would look like this. Stockdale Bruno Greer Dunk Bennett Holla McCourt Gardner Tex CMS Colunga. Really looking forward to tomorrow's game[/p][/quote]I echo your sentiments, but I would imagine that after all the effort to acquire him, Baldock is likely to start. Probably alongside CMS after his last display with one of them being replaced by Colunga once we are 3 goals up !!!!! I think the back four picks itself and it will be tough to leave out JFC, Crofts and Ince, but such is our wealth of talent in midfield, it is difficult to say who will start. Nice to feel optimistic isn't it ? fratsomrover
  • Score: 8

12:27pm Fri 29 Aug 14

bIsleybill says...

Great to see a more thoughtful and technical analysis of the Albion.
Great to see a more thoughtful and technical analysis of the Albion. bIsleybill
  • Score: 8

12:28pm Fri 29 Aug 14

bIsleybill says...

Good to see more thoughtful analysis of Albion rather than one liner puffs.
Good to see more thoughtful analysis of Albion rather than one liner puffs. bIsleybill
  • Score: 7

12:46pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Conelli98 says...

Is Johnny Crumplin available for selection?😱
Is Johnny Crumplin available for selection?😱 Conelli98
  • Score: 6

1:01pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Joel'sGrandad says...

It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making.
Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA
It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making. Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA Joel'sGrandad
  • Score: 3

1:10pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Conelli98 says...

PIG is going to Reading!
PIG is going to Reading! Conelli98
  • Score: 1

1:36pm Fri 29 Aug 14

tinker111 says...

Conelli98 wrote:
PIG is going to Reading!
Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on
[quote][p][bold]Conelli98[/bold] wrote: PIG is going to Reading![/p][/quote]Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on tinker111
  • Score: -2

2:01pm Fri 29 Aug 14

mark5 says...

tinker111 wrote:
Conelli98 wrote:
PIG is going to Reading!
Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on
I assume he means Thomas Kuszak?!!
[quote][p][bold]tinker111[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Conelli98[/bold] wrote: PIG is going to Reading![/p][/quote]Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on[/p][/quote]I assume he means Thomas Kuszak?!! mark5
  • Score: 3

2:09pm Fri 29 Aug 14

albionfan33 says...

i wouldnt mind and kind of expect jfc and ince to go out on loan to a blackpool type lower end champs maybe top end l1?
i wouldnt mind and kind of expect jfc and ince to go out on loan to a blackpool type lower end champs maybe top end l1? albionfan33
  • Score: -3

2:12pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Max Ripple says...

Joel'sGrandad wrote:
It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making.
Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA
Hi JG, I agree it is going to be able to keep everyone happy but Sami now has the option of squad rotation to stave off the lack of numbers when someone gets a knock - and look what happened to Kaz already. Remember last season when players were going down at the rate of knots? We were struggling to put out a team some weeks. Shouldn't happen this season with so many options. We can maintain a strong team even if someone does get knocked out. And with a bit of rotation most Players should keep good match fitness. A couple of good cup runs would be handy as that offers us more games to keep them all happy.
[quote][p][bold]Joel'sGrandad[/bold] wrote: It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making. Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA[/p][/quote]Hi JG, I agree it is going to be able to keep everyone happy but Sami now has the option of squad rotation to stave off the lack of numbers when someone gets a knock - and look what happened to Kaz already. Remember last season when players were going down at the rate of knots? We were struggling to put out a team some weeks. Shouldn't happen this season with so many options. We can maintain a strong team even if someone does get knocked out. And with a bit of rotation most Players should keep good match fitness. A couple of good cup runs would be handy as that offers us more games to keep them all happy. Max Ripple
  • Score: 3

2:13pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Conelli98 says...

mark5 wrote:
tinker111 wrote:
Conelli98 wrote:
PIG is going to Reading!
Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on
I assume he means Thomas Kuszak?!!
Correct
[quote][p][bold]mark5[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]tinker111[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Conelli98[/bold] wrote: PIG is going to Reading![/p][/quote]Go give me a clue who is PIG ?? or this a joke I am not in on[/p][/quote]I assume he means Thomas Kuszak?!![/p][/quote]Correct Conelli98
  • Score: 2

2:24pm Fri 29 Aug 14

tinker111 says...

OK my team for Charlton
Stockdale
Bruno
Greer
Dunk
Bennett
Holla
Croft
Teixeria
Gardener
J F C
Baldock
Sub's from
Anker's ( should be Walton)
Calderon
Hughes
Lua lua
Ince
Colunga
CMS
McCourt
OK my team for Charlton Stockdale Bruno Greer Dunk Bennett Holla Croft Teixeria Gardener J F C Baldock Sub's from Anker's ( should be Walton) Calderon Hughes Lua lua Ince Colunga CMS McCourt tinker111
  • Score: -5

4:19pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Conelli98 says...

I've tried numerous amount of times to pick a team for tomorrow and I can't! My 15yr old son who normally gives me his prediction on the train journey down has said there's no point in even trying for this game! Would Sami dare start with CMS Baldock and Colunga in a three pronged attack with Tex behind?
I've tried numerous amount of times to pick a team for tomorrow and I can't! My 15yr old son who normally gives me his prediction on the train journey down has said there's no point in even trying for this game! Would Sami dare start with CMS Baldock and Colunga in a three pronged attack with Tex behind? Conelli98
  • Score: 3

4:48pm Fri 29 Aug 14

albionfan33 says...

Conelli98 wrote:
I've tried numerous amount of times to pick a team for tomorrow and I can't! My 15yr old son who normally gives me his prediction on the train journey down has said there's no point in even trying for this game! Would Sami dare start with CMS Baldock and Colunga in a three pronged attack with Tex behind?
that'd give charlton summit to think about hehe that would give them the 3 bob bits im sure hehe
[quote][p][bold]Conelli98[/bold] wrote: I've tried numerous amount of times to pick a team for tomorrow and I can't! My 15yr old son who normally gives me his prediction on the train journey down has said there's no point in even trying for this game! Would Sami dare start with CMS Baldock and Colunga in a three pronged attack with Tex behind?[/p][/quote]that'd give charlton summit to think about hehe that would give them the 3 bob bits im sure hehe albionfan33
  • Score: 0

5:17pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Joel'sGrandad says...

Max Ripple wrote:
Joel'sGrandad wrote:
It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making.
Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA
Hi JG, I agree it is going to be able to keep everyone happy but Sami now has the option of squad rotation to stave off the lack of numbers when someone gets a knock - and look what happened to Kaz already. Remember last season when players were going down at the rate of knots? We were struggling to put out a team some weeks. Shouldn't happen this season with so many options. We can maintain a strong team even if someone does get knocked out. And with a bit of rotation most Players should keep good match fitness. A couple of good cup runs would be handy as that offers us more games to keep them all happy.
Thanks MR. I think we're in for an exciting season. UTA
[quote][p][bold]Max Ripple[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joel'sGrandad[/bold] wrote: It's a nice selection problem for Sami but not mentioned is how is Sami going to keep everyone in the squad happy. Some may be happy to sit on the bench but I would imagine most would want to play. Not that Sami will consider that. His main concern is to get a result each week. Still, with the inevitable injuries it's good to have players to come in to carry on the progress we are making. Looking forward to Saturday's game more than usual. UTA[/p][/quote]Hi JG, I agree it is going to be able to keep everyone happy but Sami now has the option of squad rotation to stave off the lack of numbers when someone gets a knock - and look what happened to Kaz already. Remember last season when players were going down at the rate of knots? We were struggling to put out a team some weeks. Shouldn't happen this season with so many options. We can maintain a strong team even if someone does get knocked out. And with a bit of rotation most Players should keep good match fitness. A couple of good cup runs would be handy as that offers us more games to keep them all happy.[/p][/quote]Thanks MR. I think we're in for an exciting season. UTA Joel'sGrandad
  • Score: 1

6:31pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Dublin_Seagull says...

Whats with the PIG name?? How did he earn that name??
Whats with the PIG name?? How did he earn that name?? Dublin_Seagull
  • Score: 0

6:35pm Fri 29 Aug 14

albionfan33 says...

Dublin_Seagull wrote:
Whats with the PIG name?? How did he earn that name??
Pole-In-Goal=pig
[quote][p][bold]Dublin_Seagull[/bold] wrote: Whats with the PIG name?? How did he earn that name??[/p][/quote]Pole-In-Goal=pig albionfan33
  • Score: 2

9:35pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Aldrington Halt says...

Exiting times await with this seasons potential! Multiple talents in attack and options on the bench, inspiring news! Seems as we've learned from the past seasons injuries to keep our options strong and Sami is exuding highly focused pro at this point and I believe that there has been little or no criticism of his tactics so far? According to his reputation and the legendary status he earned at Liverpool he has integrity and I've a feeling he'll get every ounce of talent from those players and the result will refuel our fantasy!
Exiting times await with this seasons potential! Multiple talents in attack and options on the bench, inspiring news! Seems as we've learned from the past seasons injuries to keep our options strong and Sami is exuding highly focused pro at this point and I believe that there has been little or no criticism of his tactics so far? According to his reputation and the legendary status he earned at Liverpool he has integrity and I've a feeling he'll get every ounce of talent from those players and the result will refuel our fantasy! Aldrington Halt
  • Score: 2
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