The Stadio Luigi Ferraris, more commonly known as the Marassi, looks more like a factory than a football stadium. As you approach it you are faced by four towers at each of the ground’s four corners, you can quite easily envisage thin wisps smoke rising into the Ligurian air. This factory had churned out some wonderful football last season, with Antonio Cassano as the foreman and the Delneri-Marotta axis doing the paper work, they took Sampdoria to a Champions League qualifier.
That all feels so long ago now, this season has had fans dragging their heels to work on a Monday morning. Defeat to Cesena at home will not have helped matters. Since the turn of the new year alone they have lost 8 of the 12 games contested in the league, drawing 2 and winning 2. To compound their misery even further, they have failed to score in 9 of those games.
As the game petered out the Sampdoria fans unveiled a banner that read ‘Di Carlo go now!’. There was no threat of subtlety from the Doria ultras, they wanted, manager, Domenico Di Carlo to resign. Garrone responded to the fans wishes by sacking Di Carlo yesterday morning, the reasons given for the dismissal were that they deemed other candidates better suited to the job. They had been far from inspiring since his appointment in the summer, and though Di Carlo must shoulder some of the blame it is impossible to let it all rest at his feet.
The side were dealt an almighty blow in August, when they were defeated after having one foot in the Champions League group stages. A late late Markus Rosenborg hammer took the play off tie to extra time and a subsequent Claudio Pizarro goal defeated them. When the possibility of football in the Champions League lay ahead of them, everything was exciting for the side.
When that was taken away from them and they were instead given the Lite version, or the Europa League to give it it’s official title, they appeared deflated and disinterested. They predictably crashed out of the group stages, winning just one home game against Debrecen of Hungary by a slim 1 goal margin.
The biggest hammer blow to their season has undoubtedly been the sale and disposal of the crown jewels. Antonio Cassano was the mercurial force of nature that took them to great heights last season. After a dressing room spat with, chairman, Riccardo Garrone he was sent into exile and when he emerged he was wearing the black and red of Milan. Without Cassano the team lacked creativity, they were shown up as a group of fairly average players who could draw on plenty of effort and stamina but lacked the spark to push them over the line.
Losing one star is upsetting, but for both to go could be perceived as a complete catastrophe! Just a few weeks after Cassano turned out for Milan, Gaimpaolo Pazzini left the club as well. Pazzini joined the other Milanese side, Inter, with Jonathan Biabiany going the other way on loan. All of these events transpired after the chairman’s insistence that he would not be selling his biggest remaining asset, clearly a man of his word.
It is unbelievable to imagine that 2 players of International quality in Cassano and Pazzini have been replaced with the still raw talent of Biabiany and Marco Maccarone. Those together with the loan signing of Federico Macheda have failed to make any real impact.
Riccardo Garrone left the stands almost 10 minutes before the full time whistle, hoping to avoid the wrath of the ‘Dorian fans. As he was helped from his seat he cut a deathly morose figure, perhaps with an air of guilt hanging over his head. As the police in Genoa dealt with the fans ire on Sunday afternoon, Garrone will have been tucked away considering how the stadium that manufactured such beauty had become an infernal sweatshop.