Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: 6 / Top scorer: Eder (12)
It’s been a season of contrasts for Sampdoria. They have shown peaks and troughs in form, counter-attacking mastery to downright dodgy defending, under a Coach that has exhibited flamboyance, fury and everything in between.
Yet ultimately it’s another mid-season finish, writes Tony Ciriello.
Twelve games into the new season and Sampdoria were in crisis. Languishing in 18th place and with just nine points collected, Coach Delio Rossi was sacked. Sampdoria then threw a bit of a curveball with the appointment of the fiery but unpredictable Sinisa Mihajlovic.
From that moment something changed. There was renewed energy and intensity in the side with Sampdoria adopting an adventurous 4-2-3-1 system, drawing the best out of young talents such as Shkodran Mustafi and Manolo Gabbiadini. Draws against Inter and Lazio followed, but this was only the start as the Blucerchiati went on to end the year unbeaten.
It would appear that the decision to appoint the outspoken Serbian had been vindicated. His personality was such that he was able to rally players and help pioneer more expansive football, with Sampdoria seemingly headed towards the European places.
However, this approach wasn’t a ‘golden bullet’. For all his charisma, Mihajlovic is a real stickler for commitment. Anything less than 100 per cent simply will not do. He would openly accuse his players of having ‘no balls’ warning that: “They better not come back to the dressing room if they don’t give everything.” If a performance was unsatisfactory, he’d lock the players in the dressing room to watch it all back whilst he’d go out for a run.
Also when things didn’t go well on the pitch, matches could often end in catastrophe. The stats speak for themselves. There have been 10 defeats during Mihajlovic’s tenure, in seven of those defeats they failed to score, whilst conceding an average of 2.7 goals at the other end.
It’s fair to say that no team can expect to qualify for Europe with that kind of record. Ultimately, as in previous seasons, it was another mid-table finish.
The experienced Delio Rossi seems all but a distant memory since the appointment of the man with the ‘sinister charm’ as one journalist put it. He demonstrated a personality and a style of play reminiscent of a certain Zdenek Zeman, but also some of the same defensive frailties.
In many respects, the young German centre-back Mustafi had his work cut out playing in such an adventurous system. However, he’s shown himself to be a ball-playing defender who is comfortable in possession and capable of spraying passes into midfield. This hasn’t gone unnoticed as he received a call-up to the provisional Germany World Cup squad.
- Sampdoria have one of the youngest average squad ages in Serie A at approximately 24.
- Based on yellow and red cards received, Sampdoria are one of the most ill-disciplined teams in Serie A, second only to Parma.
- Sampdoria have had nine different Coaches since 2009.
|1||GK||Junior da Costa||33||-||-|
|29||D||Lorenzo De Silvestri||34||2||2|