Welcome back to Sampdoria! I may have had a week off from posting an update, but I’m still going strong with my one and only save as we enter what I’m 90% sure is season 12…
We’re back in the top flight [enter trope about where this club belongs here] and are preparing to face off against the big guns. Last season we walked Serie B, and as such won’t be making sweeping changes to the playing staff.
In fitting with the Italian/home grown focus we have here, the players from last year have the chance to step up to the Serie A level, without fear of me making panicky short term changes. Will this cost us? Only one way to find out…
Today’s post will touch on some minor behind the scenes changes and outline our limited transfer business, before getting to the task at hand – seeing how our squad of Serie B champions fare in the top division…
Behind The Scenes:
Some very low-key expectations from the board:
Personally, I believe the top half is a realistic prospect, but I’m not telling the board that.
We’ve made some big improvements and additions to our staff, with all aspects of the team raised to the next level. It’s particularly pleasing to have added Marc Overmars as Director of Football, Yohan Cabaye as a coach and old FEO favourite John Heitinga as a coach. We’ve been at four clubs together now.
With the removal of the minimum wage imposed upon us by Serie B, the entire squad has been clamouring for new deals. For the most part, I’ve agreed to these, especially for our key players, for example:
I’ve imposed my own maximum wage for the season, and have successfully limited everyone to below £30k a week, with extra incentives and bonuses keeping everyone sweet. For now.
Summer Transfer Window:
Only one player leaves permanently:
I didn’t want to lose MDM really, but he was desperate for Champions League football and the money was too good, especially considering we were inevitably going to have to pay out £4m of our own on transfer clauses this season had he stayed. In addition to the £15m, we’ve got a 25% sell on clause in there for good measure.
After such a storming season, we’re not making many additions for the first team squad, instead keeping faith with the players that got us up:
Of those seven transfers, only the top two are for the first team, with the other five adding to our pool of youth prospects.
It was all hands to the pump with the recruiting department this summer. We didn’t need many in, but there were two spots at which I thought we were desperate for reinforcement. Unfortunately, when it came to securing a right back, the scouts didn’t come up big, and instead we had to settle for a loanee:
I’m confident in Guido Del Grosso, and am somewhat bemused that Chievo were willing to allow their first choice right back to leave on loan. I’m especially fond of his player traits. Having said that, right back is still an area we’ll be looking to improve on in future.
We had more luck in our search for a defensive-minded central midfielder:
Etienne Roudaut looks quite the prospect, and at just eighteen, comes with the added bonus of becoming a homegrown player here, should he stay long enough. I think we’ve mugged Lorient here, if only they had a better manager…
Consistency is key. Hopefully:
The mysterious fixture computer was kind to us out of the gate:
Facing a Parma side we dominated last season at home first up was a great match to settle the nerves, and they were nowhere near our level. We were brought off that high immediately with Udinese sucker-punching us in a game we should have put to bed, with another great performance that just lacked the killer instinct.
Carmelo Colonna hit the ground running and immediately nabbed a personal Serie A accolade:
With mighty Milan up next… what’s that?
A couple of special, special results and not a nil to be seen. Our performances so far have been really excellent, we were full value for both those wins, and much like the Udinese game earlier, should’ve had both Atalanta and Benevento beaten. Adriano Mari continues to astound me. He may be the most unexpectedly successful signing I’ve ever had.
Some more of those wonderful green circles:
Our top of the table(!) clash against Inter was a pretty one-sided affair in truth, and beating the reigning champions in their own back yard so comfortably made me reevaluate where we were. While early in the season, I started eyeing up Europe…
And then Torino went and done us. They’re also having an unexpectedly good start, and for the first time this season, we were second best. However, we didn’t let it knock our confidence, following it up with two easy wins, including a solid win over Genoa in my first derby. It’s reassuring that we managed to keep some clean sheets too.
Carmelo Colonna once again bagged the U19 Player of the Month, this time for October, with fellow forward Mattia Traini winning the prize for November.
A bit of a change in form:
Pesky bloody Torino. We’ve fallen short of expectations in the Coppa Italia, although in fairness, it was a tough draw to get so early.
A thoroughly mixed bag of performances, with Bologna and Roma comfortably pushed aside and an even match against Juventus finishing level. In some of the other games though, we were fortunate to salvage draws. Sassuolo really kicked seven shades out of us in the first half hour, and we did well to get back into it.
I’ve needed to delve into my bag of tactics and have changed to varying forms of 451/433 a few times. It’s something to start working on for the new year as teams perhaps start to take us a little more seriously.
So, a table anyone?
Holy mackerel. We’ve been very good for sure, but our place at the summit (for now) partly rests on the inconsistency of the traditional big dogs. Uwe Rosler’s Juve side have been woeful and Milan are criminally underperforming.
It’s a tight table and a downturn in form could see us plummet. But, we’ve looked superb at times, and I’m growing confident that European qualification is on the cards for us. We’ll have to get a plan B tactic set up, and hope to avoid the vultures in January that’re circling over fully half of our first team…
Next time we’ll face that irritating January transfer window before ploughing on with a very promising season… Thanks for reading!