Every time Claudio Ranieri joins a new club, the most optimistic of fans cast glances at Leicester City’s miraculous Premier League win in 2016. Others could also look at how he sparked a revival at Roma last season once he replaced Eusebio di Francesco, who was left in an absolute mess after some poor recruitment by Monchi in the summer of 2018.
Now, he finds himself in a similar position and replacing the exact same Coach, but in a different venue and much earlier in the campaign.
Sampdoria are reeling from the losses of Joachim Andersen and Dennis Praet and while they have taken steps to replace them, the lack of stability at the back has seen them slump to the bottom of the table. They won only a single game – against Torino – but lack a system or shape.
The way the backline has been handled is similar to the situation Ranieri found himself in at Fulham. He failed at the Craven Cottage side and was sacked before they endured relegation. Former manager Slavisa Jokanovic resorted to changing his backline in every single game. The lack of a proper, reliable defence meant that Ranieri could never have the foundation to make his direct system work.
Fulham had made multiple signings in the summer of 2018 and the recruitment lacked a plan. If there was one, Ranieri would have pulled them clear of the drop. Jokanovic would never have left, in the first place.
Samp though, have made some good signings. In an attempt to replace Andersen, Jeison Murillo was signed on loan from Valencia and Julian Chabot arrived from Groningen in the most Atalanta-esque signing ever. Alex Ferrari was also brought in from Bologna.
As Praet headed to Leicester, the Blucerchiati signed Jakub Jankto from Udinese. But Di Francesco fiddled around with the system and shape so much that he could never find the right one.
Under Ranieri, one thing is clear – Samp will have a system. A direct one with possibly a 4-2-3-1 shape. That is one area that the club should not worry about, but can Ranieri sort their backline out and bring stability?
On paper, the answer would be ‘yes’. But the options he has at the back and what Di Francesco struggled with can lead to him having problems with the same things, just like he faced at Craven Cottage.
Omar Colley has struggled and while Murillo has been fine, he hasn’t been too special either. After Di Francesco beat Torino with a back three of Colley, Ferrari and Bartosz Bereszynski, he changed the backline again in the next game. But Ranieri will have to be ruthless and do the ‘Dilly Ding Dilly Dong’ in the right way and not follow Di Francesco’s route.
The same goes for the midfield, which was a cause for concern even though the defence was more troubling. He will likely field a 4-2-3-1 for starters and change it around once the system has been fitted in. He will have to figure out the starters in that area too.
But the biggest positive that Ranieri brings is the bounce. The positivity and the unerring love for getting things right will surely bring about a change in mentality in that side. His cheerful nature and fun-loving approach will give Samp the impetus to win some games and forget about the shambolic start. For starters, that is all the side from the Luigi Ferraris need to at least get going.