Wednesday June 20 2012
Samp sense or stupidity?

Sampdoria are prepared to release a fan favourite in order to bring in a bigger name as Coach. Rob Paton tries to understand why.

After returning to Serie A at the first time of asking, Sampdoria are in the market for a new Coach to keep them there. However, unlike Serie B champions Pescara, who lost Zdenek Zeman to Roma by popular demand, the Blucerchiati are moving out of choice, with Beppe Iachini still in the position until an alternative is found.

Indeed, Iachini, who is credited as steadying the ship last term to achieve play-off success for the Genoese outfit, is understood to have still not even been officially informed by the club of their actions. After alleged meetings with representatives to Razvan Lucescu, Mauricio Pochettino, Marco Giampaolo and Rafa Benitez through previous weeks, sporting director Pasquale Sensibile will only now this week reportedly meet with the 48-year-old current tactician to explain the situation.

The scenario is understood to be that President Riccardo Garrone and Vice-President Edoardo Garrone, along with Sensibile, do not carry confidence in Iachini to successfully keep the team afloat in the top Division. The warning signs for the former Brescia man, who was promoted in 2009-10 and then relegated in 2010-11 with the Rondinelle, were there as early as April. Even as he was guiding the team on a run of form that threatened to snatch an automatic promotion spot, the first contacts with former Romania boss Lucescu were apparently made.

The manner of Samp’s search for a successor to a Coach they are only now negotiating to pay off seems somewhat backward. Indeed, rumours that predecessor Gianluca Atzori was both better paid than Iachini and also better rewarded – in terms of promotion bonuses the two men had in their respective Samp contracts – suggests that the man now popular with the fans has only ever had a bad rap with his employers. Combined with the automatic renewal of his contract upon achieving promotion, you can understand why reports talk of Iachini as ‘disappointed’ by the club.

Rather pointedly, Il Secolo XIX referred to Sensibile’s pursuit of Benitez in particular as the ‘ultimate temptation’, a search for a former Champions League and League title winner proving too irresistible to avoid disheartening Iachini, and even perhaps other candidates in the running.

Before Benitez also came the close-run, public attempt to lure promising Pochettino from Espanyol. Sensibile spoke this week of an ‘alignment of ideas’ that the club and Benitez shared in their early talks. One of those is said to be handing the Spaniard a greater sense of power when it comes to transfers, another is providing him with the patience to allow a three-year project to fully develop.

Why Benitez and not Iachini? Despite being heralded as the key protagonist to the team’s mid-season turnaround, the reason Iachini was brought in to replace Atzori is likely to be the same reason another will come in for Iachini. In having past experience of working in Serie B with larger teams expected to push towards the top, Iachini was the right man at the right time where Atzori wasn’t. In pushing Samp on from promotion into at least mid-table security next term, with the tools likely to be at his disposal, Iachini may no longer be the right man where someone else could be.

Certainly, a glance at the unrecognisable condition of the squad since spending a year in Serie B is reflective enough of not only the task that faces Iachini or his successor, regardless of reputation and know-how, but also of the huge competitive and financial cost that relegation can have on a team.

Experiencing the drop has the club desperate to avoid it again. Significantly then, the early signs in the transfer market – where commentators claim as many as 10 reinforcements are needed, particularly to shore up a lightweight midfield – have suggested that the onus on survival first and foremost may lie with the Coach.

Whilst Iachini may feel hard done by, Benitez may be exactly the type of Coach the club need in what could be a difficult return to the top flight. As Mimmo Di Carlo and Alberto Cavasin’s attempts in 2010-11 showed, if the Coach lacks the correct experience to adapt to a difficult situation, there’s no saving Sampdoria.

However, should the club miss out on Benitez, it is widely expected that Giampaolo – veteran of struggles with Catania and Cesena – will take the role. That would be a move suggestive of a decision having been made to remove Iachini, regardless of future prospects. And if the club are still run like that, then there’s no saving Sampdoria and their three-year project from what relegated them last time – themselves.

Have your say...
This has the feel of my own club hiring Steve McClaren last summer. It didn't go well. Ultimately, you have to blame the Garrone's strategy.

I wish Sampdoria all the best, though; I've always liked them and in the past few seasons have followed, very keenly, their European campaign, eventual relegation and play-offs win.
on the 22nd June, 2012 at 10:08am
Another stupid move by the Samp bigshots. Hope they get back to serie B and stay there until someone who really loves the club takes over and do a Napoli.

Hope they get Benitez so that Iachini is picked up by a more deserving club and Samp over pay for some horrible Spanish players and get back to B.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 10:21am
Garrone stupidity, not Samp stupidity. Benitez is a coach that wants money to spend and he wants control over his transfer policy. The Garrone are too busy trying to save every nickel and dime imaginable. Going for Rafa requires spending money to keep him and even more money so he can buy the players he needs. They would be saving money if they kept their promise and gave Iachini to coach the doriani in Serie A.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 5:34am
Its a joke that Samp were even promoted as they finished 6th. Play off should have been between 3rd & 4th place for the final promotion spot.
Hope they get quickly relegated!
on the 21st June, 2012 at 5:21am
Disappointing that they are bending to the will of Benitez so much, I want to know exactly what he thinks of Italian football, how much does he know?
on the 21st June, 2012 at 3:09am
'adapt to a difficult situation'??? benitez won a very lucky champions league with Liverpool, spent astronomically on very mediocre players, showed zero humility, the ego of a rageful rooster and since those dreary days on merseyside has only a wretched spell with Inter to add to his CV. What exactly do you mean, Mr Paton, when you suggest that Benitez could be perfect for adapting to a difficult position??? Nonsense...
on the 21st June, 2012 at 12:00am
This would be a great cupe for Samp if they manage it but I really doubt that they will....I'm very interested to see what Benitez can do with Samp...
on the 20th June, 2012 at 11:36pm
he just a cry baby for sure.
remember when he bought a lot of expensive forwards,that failed,in Liverpool?
When he cant do that again in Inter, he quitted like a cry baby..

in fact,samp will only spent money for something not clear. Samp better took Zeman or Gian Piero Gasperini for a more realistic target. Moreover, they knew Serie A better than Benitez..
on the 20th June, 2012 at 10:45pm
on the 20th June, 2012 at 1:18pm
why would benitez move to such a rubbish team? i really doubt benitez will move to samp he is just pretending he will so other clubs come running.
on the 20th June, 2012 at 12:32pm
It seems Sampdoria's 'plan' might falter again. The Garrone's appear to be impatient on achieving a longterm dream since taking over the club. Walter Mazzari was, in my opinion, a pretty darn good coach, having led Samp to the Coppa Final a few years ago, but the Garrone's let him go instead of incentivising a stay to build on that. They will never achieve another Vujadin Boskov like the Mantovani's did, which seems to be what they want, but in record time. Shame, really.
on the 20th June, 2012 at 11:35am

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