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Brighton boss Sami Hyypia steps down amid south coast struggles

Sami Hyypia has resigned as head coach of Championship strugglers Brighton and Hove Albion, with the south coast club in the relegation zone (3/1 shots with Coral to go down).

Finland centurion and Liverpool defensive legend Hyypia, 41, won just six of his 26 matches (about 23 per cent) of his matches in charge of the Seagulls. His tenure lasted six-and-a-half months after succeeding Oscar Garcia, with one victory in the last 18.

South coast side Brighton have reached the play-off semi-finals in each of the last two seasons, but are on just 19 points from 22 Championship games. Club chairman Tony Bloom accepted his resignation.

“We reluctantly accepted it today,” said Bloom. “Sami has worked extremely hard since joining the club last summer. Despite some good performances, including most recently at Wolves, results haven’t gone as well as we all had hoped and expected.

“Sami is an incredibly honourable man. He remains a hugely respected and very popular figure at our club. He has decided to step down for the benefit of the team and the club. We are all very disappointed, but we respect Sami’s decision and we all wish him well for the future.”

Hyypia’s assistant Nathan Jones, who also on the staff under his predecessor Garcia, is expected to be placed in temporary charge until a permanent replacement is named.

Tabloid reports link former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood; Tony Pulis, who managed the Seagulls’ bitter rivals Crystal Palace; and ex-Newcastle United, Birmingham and Norwich City coach Chris Hughton with the vacancy at the Amex Stadium.

Out of work pair Billy Davies and Brian McDermott will inevitably be linked in some circles with this job an ambitious club, though the former remains favourite to be the next Rangers manager long-term.

Ex-England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has also been touted to take over at this very early stage.

News of Hyypia’s departure follows on-loan striker Darren Bent revealing his desire to stay with Brighton instead of returning to Premier League parent club Aston Villa, where he does not appear to be part of Paul Lambert’s plans.

“There is only so much someone can take,” Bent said in an interview with local radio. “If I’m going to go back and sit on the bench I would rather stay.

“I don’t want to go back to Aston Villa if I am not going to play. No footballer enjoys sitting on the bench and playing two minutes here and there.

“For me at my age it’s about playing. If I get to stay and play more games I’ll be happy. Since I’ve been at Brighton it’s been fantastic and I’ve loved every minute of it.

“I’ve got to thank Sami Hyypia and people like that for giving me the opportunity to play. Every game I feel I’m getting sharper and fitter and back to my old self.”

Brighton are 28/1 chances to experience a second half of the season revival and finish in the top six.