Sampdoria’s young guns fire them to the top
Whilst the peninsula fawns over Stephan El Shaarawy and the Milan youngsters rush of form in the Rossoneri shirt, it is arguably the youngsters from another club that deserve praise. As La Gazzetta dello Sport prints passing statistics and Calcio fans share You Tube clips of the talented forward’s goal in Russia on Wednesday, Sampdoria sit six places above Massimilano Allegri’s side after a surprising change in form and confidence.
When one considers that Samp very nearly didn’t gain passage back to the hallowed ground of Serie A at all last season, just about qualifying for a play off position, it makes their current standing in the table all the more astounding.
With an average age of just 24.68, Samp are the latest in a list of sides in Italy finally embracing youth – joining Roma and Inter in a move toward internal development and attacking football, an ideology made famous by Udinese and more recently Pescara’s successes under Zdenek Zeman. The endeavour and attitude that came with managing the Azzurrini appears not to have left manager Ciro Ferrara, who is demonstrating his excellent eye for talent.
The likes of Pedro Mba Obiang and Andrea Poli in midfield demonstrating maturity and confidence despite ages of 20 and 23 respectively is a joy to see, the latter looking like a new man after his stifling stint at Inter. Fernando Tissone, the more experienced at 26 is enjoying some of the best football of his career, while versatile defender Gaetano Berardi is a consistently solid choice at the back.
Ferrara’s faith in youngsters is indeed paying off, and whilst the hope of maintaining such a lofty position maybe a little too much considering that the Blucerchiati were in the second tier of the Italian game just a few months ago, a top table finish is not overly ambitious at all. His side is sprinkled with quality; Maxi Lopez, Sergio Romero and former Juventus winger Marcelo Estigarribia are not Serie B players, and Ciro Ferrarra has proved that he is a manager not out of depth at the highest level.
Sampdoria’s win at the San Siro at the season’s start was proof of that. Despite being against a very poor Milan side, it was the archetypal away performance – dogged, disciplined and committed on the counter, thrown in with a classic set piece goal.
If they can maintain the level of intensity that has seen them only lose to Napoli so far this season, then the future looks bright for Sampdoria. A young, hungry side managed by a manager eager to prove a point – these things rarely last long in club football before bigger players start sniffing about.
It’s entirely conceivable that the players that are making their names in Genoa this season could be furthering their careers next year and beyond if this season continues as it has begun, and it is perhaps too much to ask for Sampdoria to stage a recoup and recover financial strategy like Udinese do every summer. The rarity of the situation (especially in a league as fond of it’s long serving players as Serie A tends to be) almost emphasises of Ciro Ferrara’s early achievements this season.
It’s early yet, but there is nothing but optimism surrounding a club that has not had much to cheer about since Antonio Cassano started the Samp slide after Chairman Riccardo Garrone froze him out the side in 2010. Sampdoria have returned to the league they never should have left, and very much intend to stay and test the resolve of the clubs who will look to occupy the European places in Spring. Sampdoria are back, and they look more exciting than ever.