It took them few days, but Sampdoria finally hired their new coach on Friday, after dismissing Eusebio Di Francesco on Monday following a disastrous start. The veteran manager, coming off a two-month stint at Roma, agreed to a two-year contract.
Ranieri won half his matches with La Lupa last year, posting then four draws and two losses. Over his long career, he has worked in four different countries and also led the Greek national team for a while. In the Peninsula, he spent time at Cagliari, Napoli, Fiorentina, Parma, Juventus, Roma and Inter, while abroad he is best known for his spells at Valencia, Chelsea, Monaco and obviously at Leicester, where he shocked the world by winning Premier League in 2016.
The Blucerchiati have collected just three points so far, defeating Torino one-nil in the fourth round, while they have lost against Lazio, Sassuolo, Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter and Hellas Verona. They have scored just four times and conceded 16 goals and are dead last in the standings.
Di Francesco was an intriguing hire in the summer, since he had success in Sassuolo and in his first year at Roma, but he did not come close to replicating that in Genoa. The roster does not really fit his proactive style, especially because of the lack of ball-handlers: their main one, Albin Ekdal is more of an adapted box-to-box rather than a pure metronome. In the first weeks, they were never able to keep possession and play proactively and proved to be very leaky in the back, since the starters Jeison Murillo and Omar Colley have been disappointing so far and the reserves have not fared much better.
Furthermore, the coach got the winger he asked for at length, Emiliano Rigoni, only after the first two fixtures, but the addition was not enough to deploy his preferred scheme, 4-3-3, in a consistent way. He tried to mix things up with a three-man defence and using a two-man front-line to have somebody closer to last year’s capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella, but things did not really improve. The veteran striker has found the target just once on penalty so far. The youngsters Ronaldo Vieira and Federico Bonazzoli were the only one to show some fight recently and the management opted to pull the plug.
Ranieri is pretty flexible tactically and will likely rely on a four-man defence. The current roster can pull off a a basic 4-4-2, which has often been used by the coach in the past, but is all in all pretty malleable, although not very deep in certain areas. Most importantly, it needs a spark.
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