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Sampdoria’s season with Vito Doria

Jerry Mancini spoke to Vito Doria who is a contributor for Forza Italian Football News and Breaking The Lines. He also can be found on the Forza Italian Football Podcast.

This summer, Marco Giampaolo left Sampdoria to join AC Milan as their new manager. Sampdoria chose to hire Eusebio Di Francesco as their new manager. At the time of the hiring, what were your thoughts?

“When Sampdoria hired [Eusebio] Di Francesco, I was actually quite happy with his appointment. I thought that he was probably going to be the coach that would help us take the next step and help qualify for Europe. Under Giampaolo’s three seasons, Sampdoria were not able to qualify for Europe. We had some good performances and there were patches where we played some great football. When it came to qualifying for Europe, we weren’t able to sustain that run.

“Di Francesco did great things at Sassuolo. [He] developed young players, played an exciting brand of football and you can see that he was able to do something with the resources there. He helped them qualify for the Europa League and that was quite impressive. Then in his first season, he took AS Roma to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Before that the only time they had gone further was in 1994 when they reached the European Cup final. The final was played at the Stadio Olimpico where they lost to Liverpool on penalties. I thought before going to Sampdoria, Francesco had a decent pedigree and thought he was the guy who could make the difference.”

Eusebio Di Francesco’s stint with Sampdoria didn’t last very long. The ex-Roma manager was fired after seven games, as the club managed to win once in that span. What were your thoughts at the time of the firing and did you think the timing was right for the club?

“I think it was. I was in fact at Sampdoria’s last two games with Di Francesco as coach. Just watching the way Sampdoria played, I could not see how the team was going to develop in confidence or be able to develop a style of play with him as the coach. It was disappointing to be at two games in Italy to watch Sampdoria when they ended up losing quite badly.

“It was just a shame for Di Francesco that he had such a horrible start. He does deserve the blame for losing in a way that the team did. I also believe that Samp did not support him enough in terms of getting players that would have suited his preferred 4-3-3 formation. He tried to used the 4-3-1-2 after a few games which he sometimes used at Sassuolo and Roma. It did work for them, but with us it looked like he was using too many players out of position. Based on the two games that I was there to attend, I could not see how he was able to turn things around.”

After Di Francesco, Claudio Ranieri came in as his replacement for Sampdoria. What are your thoughts on how Ranieri has done this season since taking over in October 2019?

“Given the circumstances, I think he’s done a fantastic job so far. We did need a quick fix in that situation. At that time, we didn’t need another coach that needed to be backed for a certain project or to replicate a certain style of play. All we needed was someone who could bring experience, stability and tranquility into the locker room. Ranieri has done that. Some of the performances haven’t been great, but ultimately the focus should be on the results. The way things are, it looks like Ranieri will probably help us survive relegation.”

Gianluca Vialli had a good career as a player and manager. The striker has not coached a club since 2001/02 with Watford. Vialli had a lot of success as a manager for Chelsea FC. Do you think that Vialli would be a candidate as manager for Sampdoria and do you think he could leave his mark with the club as their new manager in the foreseeable future?

“I admire Vialli’s work at Chelsea because they were a pretty good side in the late 90’s and they had to compete with Manchester United and Arsenal as well. With some of the players they brought in, they had a bit of Serie A experience and they played some lovely football as well. They did do well in cup competitions, they were a good a team with Vialli as the manager. It has been nearly 20 years since he finished at Watford. It’s been a long hiatus with him and I can’t expect him to make the big steps to coach again at the highest level.

“As for Vialli returning to the Doriani, I think he would return to the club more than likely as a board member or as a director than to sit on the bench. He was a part of grapple conglomerates to purchase the club within the last 12 months or so, but that failed. That bid with the York Capital Management Hedge Fund, that did not workout.

“It’s likely [Vialli] will be working with part of Roberto Mancini’s staff with the Italian national team. We’ll see what happens but I’m not sure that he would ever think about coaching again. If he does return to Il Doria, I believe that it’d be something to do with the board where he’d be a decision maker and advise the club in that sort of way. He could be one of the top dogs at the club. I think it’s more of an off the field role he could have at Samp than anything to do with the coaching staff or having a direct interaction with the players.”

Fabio Quagliarella has been with Sampdoria since 2016. He’s had some great seasons with Il Doria. What are some of your best memories Quagliarella wearing the Sampdoria shirt?

“I have a lot of fond memories of him, even from his first spell at the club which was the 2006/07 Serie A campaign. I didn’t think he was going to do what he did once he moved to the Doriani. In his first spell, the game that caught my eye was a 3-0 win versus Chievo in Genoa in the first half of the season. A lot of people remember the 1-1 draw when he scored that outrageous lob from forty metres. But against Chievo, he scored two outrageous goals from outside the box in that game and I thought this guy is not just a guy who could score goals, he could score some really beautiful ones.”

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