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Marco Giampaolo: Not Exactly



Have you ever gone shopping for a pair of jeans, and they didn’t have exactly what you wanted? You tried on a bunch of other kinds of jeans that you thought you might like, but they didn’t work, either. After exhausting all of your options at this store, you decided to buy the jeans that were the lesser of all evils instead of trying to go to another store. Were they the jeans you wanted? Not exactly. But they were jeans. And they were new. A lot of Milan fans feel similarly about Giampaolo. Is he the coach we wanted? Not exactly. But he is a coach. And he is new.

Experienced

When Gattuso left by mutual consent, there were a number of very capable coaches available. But one by one, as we changed directors and supposedly negotiated with UEFA, all of those coaches were taken. Others simply chose to stay where they were. Doesn’t really matter, I guess, none of them had salaries we could afford anyway. And like the last kid to be picked for teams, Marco Giampaolo was left standing there. We picked him, like good sports, but I’m still not sure he is the coach we needed. Well, not exactly.

If you compare the stats of Giampaolo’s Sampdoria and Gattuso’s Milan last season, two things become evident: Sampdoria scored 60 goals to Milan’s 56. And Giampaolo’s team conceded 51 goals to Gattuso’s 33 goals. The latter stat was more likely the reason between Milan’s fifth place finish and Samp’s ninth place finish. It’s also easy to infer that Giampaolo is more of an offensive coach, which is actually true. And he’s got a tactical range and years of experience that exceed Gattuso’s.

In his Empoli days

Giampaolo has been coaching as a head coach since 2004, after three years (and three different clubs) as an assistant coach. He has managed Ascoli, Cagliari, Siena, Catania, Cesena, Brescia, Cremonese, Empoli, and Sampdoria before coming to Milan. Plenty of experience in Serie B as well as Serie A sides, but never really won anything. As a player, he only ever reached Serie B side Fidelis Andria.

At first look, he seems like a mid- to lower table manager, someone who might someday win Serie B. At second look, he also looks like that manager. And maybe even third. But a lot of people see more in him, the potential to bring Milan back to fifth place again next season, maybe? I honestly don’t know. Tactically, he’s actually got ideas and range, and with a better team like Milan have, maybe he will become a better coach, too. Who knows?

He took Sampdoria to a satisfying ninth last year

Some people seem excited that he is at Milan. Just like some people are excited just to have new jeans, whether they are the ones they wanted or needed or not. Others are a bit wary, not really knowing what to expect from a coach for whom this is his biggest club by far. Milan have really rolled the dice on this one, with Champions League qualification becoming more important as UEFA’s FFP clock runs out of time. Results are going to matter, and they are not going to come if we concede 51 goals in a single season. But maybe Giampaolo is that diamond in the rough coach that some people see in him. Maybe he’s needed better players to prove what he can do. Maybe he’s the coach we needed. Or maybe not exactly.


This post inspired by the music of Pearl Jam’s “Black”