Once a contender for the Juventus job and compared with Fabio Capello, Marco Giampaolo’s coaching career has taken a nosedive. Antonio Labbate writes.
In September 2009, Fabio Capello was asked 100 questions by Marie Claire magazine. The 34th read: Which Coach is the new Capello? “One of the most interesting around is Siena boss Marco Giampaolo,” answered the then England manager.
As responses go, that was an eyebrow raiser but confirmation of the belief that the 42-year-old had notable touchline potential. Nevertheless, at the time, he was only in the middle of his third coaching stint after success with Ascoli but failure at Cagliari.
Amongst those who were surprised by Don Fabio’s answer was the man himself. “Capello’s words were unexpected, but a great honour,” Giampaolo stated. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand why he mentioned me. I feel light years away from what he has achieved and what he continues to achieve.
“It is hard to express my gratitude to Capello. His career would be a dream for all Coaches, even if that is realistically utopia. To win over time in so many different realities as he has done requires great leadership, strength and charisma.”
Less than two months later and Giampaolo was out of work, sacked by Siena after picking up just five points from the first 10 games of the season. It was a massive personal setback for two reasons. The first is that he had masterminded the club’s survival the previous term with a record points haul. The second is that he was considered for the Juventus job during the summer of 2009.
The Turin giants had a decision to make. After sacking Claudio Ranieri with two games to go of the 2008-09 campaign, the Old Lady were considering their options. Amongst them was the Swiss-born Coach who had an agreement with Siena chief Giovanni Lombardi Stronati that he would be released if a big club came knocking.
“I would have been allowed to leave for an offer of a lifetime,” Giampaolo admitted after the Old Lady had decided to keep Ciro Ferrara in charge. “That duly arrived, but it could not be finalised. I had always said that I would not leave Siena for a side of equal standing.”
While Giampaolo didn’t name the Bianconeri, Stronati was keen to reveal all. “I can confirm that the Mister was being followed by Juve. I gave him permission to talk to them as it would have been a proud moment for us had he gone to Turin.”
Despite his axing in Tuscany, much was still expected following his move to Catania in the summer of 2010. That’s because there were times when his Ascoli side, as well as his early Cagliari and Siena creations, played some great stuff. But his penchant for possession football did sometimes lead to sterile play with no end product.
In January 2011, he was shown the door in Sicily but was handed another chance in Serie A with Cesena. What followed was a disastrous run of results which accumulated just three points in nine games. The axe was inevitable and it duly arrived in October 2011.
Giampaolo was given some time to ponder on his failures. Top-flight clubs stopped calling and it wasn’t until an offer from Brescia this summer that he was handed a return to the game. President Gino Corioni decided to give him an opportunity and raised expectations of success when comparing him to former Brescia boss Mircea Lucescu, who is now in charge of Champions League outfit Shakhtar Donetsk.
That association may have been a slight exaggeration, a claim to appease the fans who thought former Coach Alessandro Calori should have been retained at the Rigamonti. Giampaolo’s three draws from their opening three Serie B games did nothing to fuel enthusiasm, while the statistic that Brescia’s win at Ternana in Week 4 was his first victory for over 1000 days added to the negativity. “But how many games have I bossed in that time?” retorted the tactician.
The more pertinent question would have been how many more games would he take charge of while at Brescia. The answer to that was one. Following the 2-1 home loss to Crotone, Giampaolo, in the interests of public safety, was asked by the authorities to talk with members of the club’s Ultras.
The 46-year-old subsequently offered his resignation, a request which the club turned down. But Giampaolo’s mind was made up as he went AWOL. He failed to show up for training on Sunday or Monday, he initially turned off his phone and then refused to pick up after turning it back on. He resurfaced on Wednesday to rescind his contract, putting pen to paper on more evidence that potential is useless unless it is realised.