After an impressive start to the season, Sampdoria is in a crisis and for all the injuries and suspensions, the blame should be placed on coach Ciro Ferrara. Surely now he should be sacked. ‘I doriani’ have lost their last six matches now and there hasn’t been many changes occurring to stop the rot.
Ferrara has shown a preference for the 4-3-3 formation but it hasn’t work. In some matches, the formation becomes a 4-5-1 and the players end up sitting back and defending. The structure of his attack has been a real problem too. He has kept insisting on playing with a false #9 or using one of his central midfielders as a wide forward. Roberto Soriano and Nenad Krsticic are central midfielders at best so Ferrara is kidding himself if one of those guys can do what Cesc Fabregas does for Barcelona and Spain. If one of them isn’t playing in the false #9 role, they are placed on the wings. Neither player possesses the trickery or pace to play as a winger. Even if one of them plays as an ‘ala tornante’ or a returning winger, it’s a role that should be eliminated from Italian football because it places emphasis on hard work instead of technique. Marcelo Estigarribia has been used as a right-winger but he is more suited to being a left midfielder or a left wing-back, depending on the formation used.
When Sampdoria was getting results, there was a reliance on Maxi Lopez to score goals and if he wasn’t available, Nicola Pozzi would be given the responsibility. Aside from them, Sampdoria lack a prolific scorer and aside from Enzo Maresca and Gianni Munari scoring the occasional goal from set-pieces, the others haven’t shown much initiative to score goals. Eder has displayed in Serie A career so far that he isn’t as prolific as he was in Serie B. If Maresca is not taking free-kicks, Eder does and more often than not, they hit the wall. Against Napoli, ‘i doriani’ played a good possession game even when they were losing but without a pure #9, nobody was there to test the keeper or test Napoli’s centre-backs. Surely Estigarribia and Eder could have tested Morgan De Sanctis in the Napoli goal from long range, a lob or even a cross-shot!
Injuries and suspensions haven’t helped the Doria cause either. Injuries to Enzo Maresca, Pedro Obiang and Andrea Poli have had effects on the Ferrara’s starting line-up, depriving the coach of his regular midfielders. Pozzi’s injury has also tested Sampdoria’s depth in attack, leaving the side with one back-up centre-forward in Mauro Icardi. Suspensions to Sergio Romero, Daniele Gastaldello, Andrea Costa and Maxi Lopez have left voids from time to time for the Genoa-based team.
Poor refereeing has also affected the outcome of Sampdoria’s matches. Against Torino, the rough play from Giampiero Ventura’s players, particularly from Polish defender Kamil Glik, went unpunished. The ‘Toro’ players were holding their opponents and looked more like a rugby team than a football team. In the match against Napoli, Sampdoria lost because of a penalty scored by Edinson Cavani but the foul was committed just outside of the penalty area. Obiang was fouled and injured but the referee waved play-on and Chievo scored to make it 2-1. Despite a gallant display against Inter, Sampdoria lost 3-2 and that was largely due to Costa receiving an undeserved red card and the third Inter goal not being disallowed for offside.
Ferrara’s current job is starting to become very similar to his previous Serie A coaching stint at Juventus. His team started of very well but results eventually went astray. Juve also suffered from a large injury list, more so than at Samp. His best results were wins against Sampdoria, his future employers, and against Atalanta. Both matches ended 5-1 and Ferrara used the 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite those results, he didn’t use that formation too often, regularly opting for the 4-3-1-2 formation, with Brazilian playmaker Diego playing behind the strikers. Ferrara showed that at Juve, he couldn’t adapt to change and even now at Sampdoria, he is still reluctant to make changes to his formation or personnel. At Juve, he rarely gave Sebastian Giovinco time to play and now at Samp, he isn’t giving Icardi a chance to play. How can a player get into the rhythm of a match and prove himself in 10 minutes? Ideally substitutes need at least 20-25 minutes to make the right impact.
Sampdoria employed Ferrara after his success as the coach of Italy’s U/21 team. He used the 4-3-3 formation and promoted lots of exciting young players into the team, especially in attack. When Ferrara started coaching Juve, he was promoted from the ‘primavera’ team. So far as a coach, he has proven that he can coach a team with young players but he struggles to coach teams at the elite level.
If it wasn’t for the losing streak, it could have been tolerable to keep Ferrara and use the January transfer window to buy some pure forwards, perhaps even get some of his Italian U/21 pupils on a loan spell. He has stuck to doing things his own way and they aren’t benefitting anyone.
The fans have had to witness five consecutive losses and there haven’t been many signs of improvement. A change in management is required and hopefully Ferrara’s replacement uses a formation that suits the characteristics of the players on Sampdoria’s roster.