Welcome back to Serie B! Our form in the second half of last season was good enough to make us the second best team in the league during that period, and though we finished 8th, I’m optimistic that with an entire season, we can make a promotion run.
I wasn’t too disappointed to lose out in the play-offs last year, as it may have caused hasty decisions on players, and frankly a recruitment headache that I can well do without.
A full season in Serie B gives us a chance to develop a little more naturally, and means I can give some useful experience to our young players, without them having to deal with getting tonked by the big clubs repeatedly.
If we miss out this year though, I’ll probably have a headache of a different kind…
Behind The Scenes:
There’s been a little minor action surrounding our new board this summer. They’ve successfully improved our youth facilities (unprompted by me) to “State of the Art” levels, which is great, although our training facilities have fallen to “Superb” due to technical advances.
After removing a youth focus philosophy, I’ve convinced them to both re-instate it, and add another:
Our targets and budgets:
I’m not entirely sure what “Around Top Of League” means, but it’s one below “Automatic Promotion”, so I assume it means comfortably in the play-offs at least. We will get nowhere near that wage budget.
A few more little nugs:
Good to know that we’re predicted to have a chance, although recently promoted Juventus U23s being favourites is confusing to me.
The transfer clauses that continue to pay out are perhaps the only thing that the previous manager(s) got right.
We’ve also continued to improve our backroom staff, with the highlight being coach and old friend João Tralhão joining me for a third time.
Summer Transfer Window:
It’s been a fairly controlled summer. We’ve managed to reduce the wage spend significantly and send off some of the more peripheral youngsters out on loan deals:
Federico Ricca had to go. He was good last season, but is 33 years old and was on a whopping £37k a week. Even after selling him he’s still our top earner for the next year, as we continue to pay him £11k (almost double our next highest paid player). My main concern at losing him was that as the captain his departure might cause dressing room strife, but no-one stirred.
The other permanent outgoings were fairly inconsequential names, and we’ve stripped ourselves of our three oldest players.
In terms of new players, we have filled the gaps in the squad, and mostly acquired the depth I was after. We didn’t have any luck in the loan market however, with all of our targets choosing to play at other Serie B clubs. Our loan failures were to pick up a) a striker, prompting me to spend on a signing; and b) an upgrade at centre back, meaning we must trust in the players we have at that position.
Clickable names klaxon…
In defence, our only addition is Franco Cipriani. I struggled to find an ideal left back, and in the end went for Franco, who’s a little older than I would’ve liked at 23. But he has good physicals and hopefully has a little more development in him yet.
We brought in four new midfielders, two of whom came in from Milan on frees. I expect Simone Barcucci to feature immediately in the first team, providing us with the hard-working central player I’ve been after. I was on the fence about signing Cosimo De Marco, but his versatility should prove a valuable asset.
For an intial fee of £1m, we’ve brought in Marco Mercurio to be our first choice right winger:
He looks very promising indeed, and we’ll be training him to play as a MR so he fits into both our tactics (see below).
The final midfielder was brought to my attention by the scouting team after his transfer-listing at Monaco. Patrick Serre is raw, but with 17 for crossing and great physicals, he’s an absolute bargain. Not Italian, but young enough to become a homegrown Sampdoria player after three years.
We’ve added three forwards to the squad, with Carmelo Colonna the big money signing, after it became clear our first choice target was no longer available to us on loan:
I didn’t particularly want to spend so much, but he’s a great prospect, and I’d rather have a striker that I trust, than a little extra in the bank.
Mattia Traini is a youngster with some potential that we can hopefully develop well through training, whilst Nuno Barbosa is my only foreign over-18 signing. Another unearthed by my scouts for a bargain fee, he looks very good, and has been brought in just in case Riccio continues to flop.
We didn’t manage to get everyone we wanted, but still, I’m satisfied with the squad. It’s young (an average age of 20), largely Italian (only 4 foreign players), and has plenty of homegrown talent (50% of the squad are homegrown at Sampdoria, a number which will rise). Most importantly of all, I believe it can compete for promotion, although time will tell on how strong the club’s coming down from Serie A… are…
Following our decent performances at the end of last season after the adoption off the asymmetric Frankfurt 442, the plan is to continue with it. I’ve recruited with that in mind, and we’ll be rolling with two versions, one with an AML (in last week’s post if you really want to see it) and a flipped copy with the AMR as a winger:
This screenshot was taken before the squad numbers were sorted out.
No cupcakes in the Coppa Italia, as we faced divisional rivals, but we got two very pleasing results:
We’ve started off well, and mostly look far more dangerous in attack than the majority of last season. Even in the 0-0 with recently relegated Cittadella we looked good, and really should’ve won.
In our continuing “bit” of mentioning homegrown debutants, young right back Riccardo Rocchi made his first start off of the bench in the league game against Lecce.
We’re playing some fine football:
And even better, winning! The only bad point is we’ve picked up several injuries, with Mercurio facing ten weeks out and the shorter term losses of Roccella and Riccio also blows. Fortunately, their replacements stepped in and did well.
Carmelo Colonna has started off really well playing as the deep-lying forward, and having two up front is proving to be a far more potent attacking threat. We’re also a significant danger from set pieces, which is a big change from last season.
We’ve another HG debut to mention, with Federico Mazzoli starting against Bari, after his season on loan at Sudtirol last year.
At the end of September we had set a new Sampdoria record, with seven wins in a row.
A run which immediately came to an end:
But a great couple of months nonetheless. Clean sheets a bit thin on the ground, but that’s not so bad when you’re banging in so many goals. Matteo Riccio has hit form, providing both goals, assists and a danger from taking set pieces. I’m so glad he hasn’t totally flopped.
The big story though is our defeat of Serie A side Fiorentina in the cup. We played exceptionally well, and were good value for our win. We’ve come a long way since last year.
We’re on a roll:
Our injury problems are finally starting to subside, as I’ve reduced our team training intensity slightly. I was treating our young lads too much like the elite athletes I’ve been used to working with, and that’s on me.
When we went to Spal, they were second in the league. We rested five players due to fixture congestion, so to come out with the points was marvelous. It could’ve been so different had Luca Biglieri not saved a penalty on 70 minutes with the scores level. He’s having a good season between the sticks.
In a tight affair with Cittadella, our unbeaten start came to an end. We weren’t terrible, but just couldn’t take our chances for once. As you can see, our first match of the next part will be a huge game at Inter in the cup…
We were so close to sealing another Sampdoria record, but it stood at 18 games unbeaten before, and it still does:
We look strong favourites for the title now…
It’s been a great start to the season, and I’ve happily signed a contract extension:
This hasn’t stopped me being linked with numerous English and Italian top-flight clubs though. Settle down guys, I’m here for the long haul.
Thanks for reading!