Hyypia under pressure as Leverkusen slump again

24 March 2014 11:31

Sami Hyypia is under mounting pressure in his first season as head coach of Bayer Leverkusen with his side winless since February following eight defeats in their last nine games.

The 40-year-old former Liverpool captain took sole charge of Leverkusen in August, having spent his first season as co-coach alongside Sascha Lewandowski, who left prior to the current season.

The former Finland international has a contract until 2015, but Leverkusen's current form has put any plans to extend the deal on ice.

Hyypia steered Leverkusen to second in the Bundesliga on December 7, just four points adrift of leaders Bayern Munich, when they claimed an impressive 1-0 win at Borussia Dortmund.

Since then they have lost 11 of their 13 league games and crashed out of both the Champions League and German Cup, when they suffered a shock 1-0 quarter-final defeat to second-division Kaiserslautern.

Now down to fourth, Leverkusen trail Bayern by 30 points and are 21 points above 16th-placed Hamburg leaving them closer to relegation than the title.

Hoffenheim claimed an historic first win over Bayer on Sunday with a 3-2 victory at the BayArena, leaving Bayer in danger of finishing the season outside the Champions League places.

"I can't explain why we played that badly during the first half," said Hyypia after Hoffenheim's Anthony Modeste scored their 89th-minute winner.

"I'm not happy with our commitment, attitude and concentration.

"We had a match plan, but attitude and commitment are also part of football.

"I need the help of my staff and players, I can't pull us out of this alone."

Despite Leverkusen's nightmare run, which includes a 4-0 hammering at home by Paris Saint Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League, Hyypia still enjoys the confidence of director of sport Rudi Voeller.

"A week ago, we said that believe in the coach and nothing has changed," said Voeller, who acknowledged results have to improve.

"The coach is now tarnished, it would be the same at any other club.

"We must try to get out of trouble together with him."

Leverkusen are at mid-table Augsburg on Wednesday, then host bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday.

"Four points are in all probability compulsory. For Bayer. For Hyypia," pointed out local paper Rheinische Post.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Bayern and Dortmund coach, said Hyypia faces the biggest test of his fledgling career in his first coaching job.

"I think a lot of Hyypia, because he is very calm and has advanced the team tactically," said the Swiss national coach.

"Now it's a test he has never experienced as a coach and he is now challenged as a psychologist."

Source: AFP