Stankovic’s thankless task at Sampdoria: Can he guide the Blucerchiati to Serie A safety?

There is a myriad of issues at Sampdoria which means Dejan Stankovic has got a huge job on his hands.

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A sense of inevitability hovered over the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan on Saturday evening as Sampdoria put in another forgetful performance against Inter.

The Blucerchiati were defeated 3-0 by the Nerazzurri on Matchday 12 of the 2022/23 Serie A season, and truth be told, the Genovese club were fortunate that they were not humiliated by a greater margin.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Sampdoria coach Dejan Stankovic, who had a glorious playing career while at Inter and was a part of the great team which achieved the treble in 2009/10. However, it was a night to forget for his new club.

Goals from Stefan De Vrij and Nicolo Barella gave the Biscione a comfortable lead before half-time and former Blucerchiati forward Joaquin Correa sealed the victory in the second half. Aside from a powerful shot from substitute Ignacio Pussetto and a potential Francesco Acerbi own goal late in the game, Il Doria did not pose much threat to Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Stankovic forced to experiment

It is bad enough for Stankovic having to work with limited resources at Sampdoria, and he had to make more changes to his team due to form and injury woes.

Veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella was sitting in the stands due to a muscular injury; left-back Nicola Murru came off injured in the 1-0 victory against Cremonese on Monday evening and was left on the bench; Tommaso Augello has been constantly exposed for his defensive frailties; and Abdelhamid Sabiri, who was one of Samp’s bright spots in the early rounds, has failed to make an impact under Stankovic.

This forced the Serbian tactician to play centre-back Bruno Amione at left-back and right-winger Mehdi Leris on the left wing, moves that would have been severely punished if Denzel Dumfries did not have a mediocre game for Inter. However, the Nerazzurri did more damage down the left flank and the middle.

Once again, Francesco Caputo was left isolated up front and Manolo Gabbiadini also struggled to make an impact all game. Not only do Sampdoria lack confidence and determination, they are lacking guile as well.

Stankovic’s optimism

Only the most optimistic of Sampdoria supporters would have expected to have obtained a point against Inter but it does not make a defeat like this any less disappointing.

Prior to the Matchday 12 encounter, Il Doria did defeat Ascoli on penalties in the Coppa Italia and won against Cremonese in the previous round of Serie A action, so at least Stankovic has got some positive results since he has arrived.

“I see the glass as half full, I look the other way and have been here for over 20 days,” he said in his press conference.

“I say there is improvement, even on the points you have highlighted. We are far from where we need to be, I believe in it, and I won’t be broken.

“I asked the boys to put more crosses, even cleared crosses do not lead to counter-attacks. We have to be more cunning, put a nice through-ball inside the penalty area, where we were with 2 or 3 men, and this is also an improvement.”

Despite some slight improvement since the sacking of Marco Giampaolo, it is clear that Stankovic still has a mammoth task on his hands. Uncertainty on whether the club will be sold or not remains, leaving little hope for everyone involved at Sampdoria. Even if he encourages the squad to show more fight, that is not enough to lift the Blucerchiati out of the relegation zone.

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