Scott Fleming analyses the Blucerchiati's fall from grace and asks whether the current administration can be trusted to lead them back to Serie A at the first attempt
Sampdoria's demotion from Serie A with a week to spare has provoked a variety of responses. The players are despondent, the fans are irate, and others? Well others are confused.
Because even after the sales of Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini, the weeks and months of wretched performances and the bizarre decision to appoint Alberto Cavasin, it's hard to believe that Sampdoria will start next season in Serie B.
Samp, whose blue and white ringed shirts have become synonymous with Serie A, whose panache and self belief left richer clubs trailing in their wake last season, who contested a Champions League qualifier just nine months ago.
Whilst we can afford to sit around scratching our heads wondering where it all went wrong, the club most certainly cannot. Serie B will recommence in three months' time and it's a treacherous place to be, even for clubs with glorious histories and sizeable fanbases. Just ask Hellas Verona, who have sunk through the divisions like quicksand and currently reside in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione, the modern equivalent of Serie C1.
The Blucerchiati will be Serie B title favourites, but can the current administration really be trusted to deliver an immediate return to the top flight? President Riccardo Garrone has made enough bad business decisions this season to fill an entire series of The Apprentice. Were he to participate in that show it's fair to say he'd be fired in week one, even if the other contestants were Maurizio Zamparini and Massimo Cellino.
First there's the Cassano and Pazzini debacle. They were bound to leave eventually, Samp could only hold on to such immensely talented forwards for so long, but to sell them both in such a short space of time for such pitiful financial returns, and replace them with the likes of Massimo Maccarone and Jonathan Biabiany, was madness.
Garrone outdid himself, however, with the appointment of Cavasin, a man who hadn't coached in Serie A since 2007 and has been sacked by lower League outfits more often than he's had hot dinners. If he was the best candidate available to the club, they should have stuck with Mimmo Di Carlo. At least then they might at least have reached Week 38 with something to play for.
There was some good news earlier this week when Delio Rossi said that Serie B held no fears for him, a clear indication that he would consider taking the Doria reigns next term. If Samp can seal that deal and recruit the right sporting director the forecast might not be so bleak after all.
Then again, they have also been linked with Alessio Secco, the sporting director whose name still sends a shiver down Juve fans' spines. Novara's Pasquale Sensibile may be the more sensible choice.
If the past season has taught us anything, though, it's that nothing can be taken for granted.