Sinisa Mihajlovic’s journey as a Coach thus far does not quite yet polarise opinion like the rollercoaster ride that was his highly controversial playing career, but if he continues in the same vein he may just run out of chances to prove himself as a top level tactician. Like a large number of Coaches around the peninsula, the fiery Serb has been in and out of jobs all too often since being handed his first role as a number one at Bologna in 2008.
On that occasion, a number of high profile disagreements with senior players is thought to have been a key factor in costing him his job in Emilia-Romagna. With the Rossoblu also in relegation trouble, Miha did not see out the season before being sent packing.
Just over a year after his appointment at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, it was bottom of the table Catania’s turn to come calling. After guiding them to safety, however, Mihajlovic upped sticks again to take over from Cesare Prandelli at Fiorentina. He only lasted marginally longer there though and, following an underwhelming mid-table finish in his first season in charge, he was given the bullet three months into the following campaign.
A short spell in charge of the Serbian national team followed, but he still found time to court controversy once more, banning Adem Ljajic from his squad for refusing to sing the national anthem. Results were far from ideal either, with the team out of World Cup contention by the time he left for current club Sampdoria.
Despite a successful four-year stint at the Luigi Ferraris that the 45-year-old enjoyed as a player, Blucerchiati fans could have been forgiven for thinking the appointment of Mihajlovic represented an enormous risk. Having collected only nine points from their opening 12 Serie A fixtures and coming off the back of defeats to newly promoted Verona and Sassuolo, alarm bells at the club were well and truly ringing. For the sake of Samp’s top flight status, it was imperative that President Edoardo Garrone got the decision right.
Fast forward six months and Mihajlovic has worked his magic once more in Genoa. Despite a recent poor run of five defeats in six matches, the Blucerchiati will finish the season comfortably in mid-table having soared clear of any potential relegation battle months ago. He has instilled resilience, belief and the sense of a common goal into the team, traits that were badly lacking under predecessor Delio Rossi.
“Mihajlovic has united the group,” striker Maxi Lopez recently said. “He has hit the right notes and brought character back into the team. I think he is destined to coach a huge club.”
Colourful interviews aplenty and a two match touchline ban for insulting the referee during his side’s match against Chievo have ensured that, as ever, Miha has remained in the headlines. Nevertheless, the players have clearly responded to his methods.
Furthermore, whisper it quietly, but the Serb has shown signs of wanting to finally settle down and remain at a club for the long-haul. He declared his happiness at having ‘come home’ to Samp during the Press conference to announce his appointment and has repeatedly stressed his ‘ambition’ for where he wants to take them in the months since.
However, as with all things Sinisa Mihajlovic you just never know what is coming next. Recent weeks have seen him strongly linked with the hot-seat at another of his former clubs, Lazio. Bearing in mind his previous activity as a Coach, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he may be tempted by the Biancocelesti should they dispense with Edy Reja’s services. The Serb is currently locked in negotiations with Garrone over his future with the Blucerchiati, but his only comment regarding the talks thus far has been that they are ‘getting there’.
If he is to fulfil Lopez’s prophecy of becoming a great tactician, Miha must surely first prove he is capable of remaining at a club for a sustained period of time and laying some firm foundations. The opportunity to use the momentum he has generated at Samp and turn it into something substantial is surely one he must do everything in his power to take.