“One of the most interesting around is Siena boss Marco Giampaolo”. That was Fabio Capello’s answer to the question “Which coach is the new Capello?” in 2009.
Indeed despite the fact Giampaolo’s Siena and, previously, his Ascoli team played some good football at times, Capello’s answer was bizarre to say the least, as Giampaolo’s work at Cagliari was considered as a failure and resulted in his sacking.
Despite his Cagliari shortcomings, the then 42-year-old’s work at Siena had earned him the luxury of getting close to becoming the new coach of Juventus, but the Old Lady decided to promote Ciro Ferrara instead.
However, the remarkable work that Giampaolo did at Empoli and most notably Sampdoria in recent years confirms that Capello and may have right spotting the potential of the former Swiss-born Italian tactician nine years ago.
In 2015-16 Giampolo improved Maurizio Sarri’s finish with a Empoli by a remarkable five places, by finishing 10th, despite losing key players such as Daniele Rugani, Simone Verdi and Mirko Valdifiori. Since then 10th place has become something of a trademark for Giampaolo, as he repeated this record with Sampdoria in both of his seasons at the helm of the club.
Samp have enjoyed an even more impressive start this term, as the Genovese outfit currently occupy sixth place, which would qualify them for the Europa League.
While considering the competition, a top six finish would be highly unlikely for Sampdoria, another top 10 finish would not only be an impressive, but also a historic achievement, as the last time Samp finished in the top half of the table in three consecutive seasons was in the 1990s, when the Blucerchiati won the Scudetto in 1990-91 and reached the European Cup final a year later.
Comparing the current Sampdoria team with the one from almost three decades ago would be hugely inappropriate, as the talent that Doria possesed back in the day was simply remarkable. Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli, Gianluca Pagliuca, Pietro Vierchowod, Attilio Lombardo and Toninho Cerezo were all players of extraordinary ability, and unfortunately for Giampaolo he does not have such class at his disposal nowadays.
Instead the 51-year-old tactician counts on a number of young talents and a core of experienced Serie A heads, who perfectly compliment his intelligent tactical approach. In fact Giampaolo showed that he has the ability to work with young players and more importantly that he is brave enough to trust them, even before joining Sampdoria.
In 2015 he was the one who granted Rade Krunic his Serie A debut for Empoli and since then the Bosnian midfielder has established himself, as a key figure for the Tuscan outfit. Giampaolo also played a key role in Piotr Zielinski’s development before his move to Naples, as the Polish midfielder registered 36 appearances and 5 goals at Empoli.
At Samp the Swiss-born Italian continued this trend, as his work with the likes of Lucas Torreira, Emil Audero, Dennis Praet, Karol Linetty and David Kownacki has simply been remarkable. Getting such results with so many young players at a club like Sampdoria is far from easy, as the constant change of personnel and the unpredictable nature of Massimo Ferrero make the job a real challenge.
Similar to his situation at Empoli, Giampaolo lost a big portion of his key players in the summer, as club captain Emiliano Viviano, Duvan Zapata, Ivan Strinic and Torreira all left Stadio Luigi Ferraris. However, losing so many influential figures highlighted another quality of Giampaolo.
His ability to get the best out of inconsistent or average performers has rarely been pointed out, but the fact that Fabio Quagliarella is playing some of his best football at the age of 35 and that Zapata had his most prolific Serie A season ever is mainly due to Giampaolo’s slick tactics and smart management.
Viviano’s performances at Sampdoria were also another prove of the good work done by the coach, as the current Sporting goalkeeper has never been known for his leadership and consistency, but yet he did remarkable well under Giampaolo.
Everything that the current Sampdoria coach has done in the last three seasons show that Giampaolo has maturity and is no-longer prone to the rookie mistakes he made earlier in his managerial career. After spending time at Cesena, Brescia and Cremonese, Marco Giampaolo has once again earned his place amongst Italy’s most promising tacticians. With an exciting Sampdoria team and experience at his side, this time the chances are that the twice sacked by Cagliari tactician, will not miss his chance again.