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banner Friday, 4 May, 2001, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Hyypia rising to the challenge

Hyypia: an authoritative Liverpool figure
BBC Sport Online looks at Sami Hyypia's role in the Liverpool revolution as he explains that expectations are constantly growing for him and Liverpool.

When the Liverpool side was crying out for a leader and a defensive dynamo, the Anfield side got both rolled into one by signing Finn Sami Hyypia.

Hyypia joined in the summer of 1999 and has been the leading influence in eradicating a lot of the defensive vulnerability which threatened to bring the Liverpool empire crumbling down to a shadow of its former past.

I was delighted with the way things turned out for me last season
  Sami Hyypia

At a club where attacking potency has not been in short supply, the blame for failure was targeted at the team's defensive frailties.

Hyypia has played an authoritative role in changing that. His signing has coincided with Liverpool letting in the least amount of goals during the last Premiership season.

"I always hoped I'd settle in quickly and in the end I was delighted with the way things turned out for me last season," said Hyypia.

Sami Hyypia
Hyypia is a commanding and no-nonsense figure

"We were very good last season. We did exceptionally well with a relatively new team, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised we conceded so few goals.

"We had a lot of new faces, and to gel together so quickly was a big bonus for us all. It took us time to recapture that form this term."

The loss of a three goal lead to Southampton and a 4-3 loss at Leeds after leading 2-0 saw some defensive concerns materialise as Liverpool's league challenge stuttered and, has ultimately failed to materialise.

Hyypia happened to score in both games but, the problems look to have been temporary.

Since being beaten at home for the first time during the present campiagn by Ipswich, Liverpool have conceded just nine goals and kept 10 clean sheets in 17 games.

This season has been more difficult - I'll admit that - but it's not something I can't cope with
  Sami Hyypia

Italian league leaders Roma have been overcome in the Uefa Cup.

Liverpool are now challenging for honours in the Worthington, Uefa and FA Cup competitions.

"If you were to analyse it you would have to say we have been punished because of our own mistakes," said Hyypia, looking back at the problems earlier in the season.

"We've played some really good football at times and then in other games let ourselves down."

"I knew coming into this season I had to prove that last term wasn't a fluke. The opposition players know me better and know my weaknesses, so it makes the challenge that much greater.

"This season has been more difficult - I'll admit that - but it's not something I can't cope with.

Hyypia and Liverpool seem to be rising to the challenge of raising their standards.

And, with a perfectionist such as Hyypia involved, there is plenty of scope for further improvement.

"I'm my own worst critic," he said. "I hate making any kind of mistake and I get angry with myself when that happens.

"If I feel I haven't played to the best of my ability then it does get me down."

He added: "The most encouraging thing is that we are learning from our mistakes and making an effort not to repeat them.

"We have to remember what we are good at and make sure we get the basics right. We have started to show our true colours."

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