Vincenzo Montella has a tough job on his hands having returned to his success-starved former club Sampdoria, whom he served with great distinction as a prolific striker during his playing days.
Montella spent three years with the Blucerchiati in his first spell at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris from 1996-1999, before a short loan stint in the twilight of a glittering career.
An impressive record of 54 goals in 83 league appearances throughout that initial stay ensured hero status, which is a mantle he hopes to regain as head coach of the Genoese outfit.
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The 41-year-old inherits an inconsistent Sampdoria side from Walter Zenga – another ex-player who lasted just five months in the post – following a wretched run of one win in seven games.
Samp sit tenth in the Serie A standings after 12 matches played, while disenchanted supporters yearn for a resumption of the early 1990s period, when their beloved club claimed the Scudetto, Coppa Italia and European Cup Winners’ Cup.
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Impatient fans exerted significant influence over president Massimo Ferrero’s decision to dispense with the role’s previous incumbent, and now it’s Montella’s turn to run the gauntlet in the hope of avoiding a similar fate.
Montella arrives back in Genoa having steered Fiorentina to three successive fourth-place finishes in Serie A, plus a Coppa Italia final in 2014.
Last season also saw the Viola reach the Europa League semi-finals, in addition to the last four of the Italian Cup.
Unfortunately, well-documented disagreements between L’Aeroplanino [The Little Airplane] and Fiorentina’s hierarchal figures over the future direction of the club saw them part ways in acrimonious fashion last summer, despite coming so close to silverware.
It’s a matter of keen debate as to whether Montella under or over-achieved, but he certainly coped admirably with a high turnover of players caused by the perennial loss of star names such as Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic.
Refreshed and raring to go, he aims to reinforce a burgeoning reputation by dragging Sampdoria into European contention, which is no easy task.
Anything less than a top-six spot could see Montella depart long before the conclusion of his two-and-a-half-year deal, due to the fierce pressure involved.
Neapolitan native Montella utilises numerous formations according to opposition tactics and his overall game-plan, even changing mid-contest should the need arise.
He expects his charges to be highly adaptable and willing to carry out varying instructions without fuss, regularly interchanging between a 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 strategy.
The tried and tested approach preached by the former Italian international incorporates high-tempo possession football, facilitated by accurate passing and width in order to stretch opponents.
However, in clashes against the most revered sides, he would often revert to a counter-attacking style based on the use of lightning quick breaks from deep-lying areas.
Two components of incredible importance within the new man’s framework will be a capable goalscorer occupying Montella's old centre-forward position, also operating ahead of a cultured midfielder who can dictate play.
Striker Eder has been in fine fettle so far this season with nine goals, while Roberto Soriano boasts three assists and the same amount of strikes, despite being shuffled between a playmaker role and wide on the left.
The basic ingredients are in place, but Montella must fend off reported interest in the pair from a whole host of clubs in January, whilst requesting substantial backing in the transfer market to build around them.
Montella will be looking to retain both stars, but must also be convinced of the club’s ambition to make an impact among the upper echelons of Serie A; whether the requisite financial support is forthcoming remains to be seen.
He spent much of his time in Florence fighting against the tide of player sales and tempering fan expectation, which showcases his ability to deliver creditable results under trying circumstances.
But, if Sampdoria want tangible success, then it’s imperative that Montella is afforded a strong enough hand with which to compete.
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