Taking over from the man who earned Sevilla three Europa League titles on the trot was always going to be a daunting task.
Many fans and pundits alike had their doubts over whether Jorge Sampaoli was the right man for the job, but the Argentinean manager rolled up his sleeves and dived in head first showing commendable courage and self-belief.
The 56-year-old former Chile head coach was appointed Sevilla manager this summer, following Unai Emery’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain and despite big reputation and results with the Chilean national football team, Jorge Sampaoli’s appointment was welcomed with a pinch of salt.
Having led Chile to their first-ever Copa America title, after defeating Argentina in the final in 2015, Jorge Sampaoli returned to club management feeling energised to take his attack-minded football to more frequent basis.
Having signed a two-year contract with Rojiblancos, Jorge Sampaoli was faced with a much changed team compared to one Emery had at his disposal last season, which only made his early charge that harder to begin with.
The likes of team leader Ever Banega, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Kevin Gameiro, Fernando Llorente and Coke lead the line of summer departures, 11 in total.
Sevilla lost an entire team and board needed to make a swift reaction to replace some of the most important first-team players with new ones that would be an instant fit ahead of the looming season.
They ultimately did a great job having brought the exact number of new players to fill in the blanks and begin the new season with an entirely different team.
The likes of Franco Vazquez, Wissam Ben Yedder, Joaquin Correa, Gabriel Mercado, Matias Kranevitter, Ganso, Luciano Vietto and Manchester City on-loan midfielder Samir Nasri are the most prominent summer arrivals all expected to make a difference as Jorge Sampaoli attempts to put his stamp on the club and make the fans forget about Unai Emery.
His early start was not the most promising one.
Sampaoli opened the new season with back-to-back defeats to Real Madrid and Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup, respectively, which had the supporters sweating over club’s decision to bring former Chile head coach in the first place.
Temperamental South American was determined to prove his worth and demonstrate he is the right man for the job despite the criticism. Six matches later and Sampaoli’s Sevilla are unbeaten in the new season, both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League.
Rojiblancos raised the curtain on La Liga with a memorable 6-4 win over Espanyol, notched three draws away from home including a goalless stalemate at Juventus, beat Las Palmas and managed a morale-boosting triumph over Real Betis last time out.
Sevilla are playing Athletic Bilbao next weekend and are 13/5 betting odds to record their first away win in the 2016-17 season.
Jorge Sampaoli is not to be judged after initial stages of the season however as the Argentinean himself is still searching for all the answers.
Having shuffled his deck to find the winning formula far too many times this season, Sampaoli made Sevilla the first team in the history of La Liga to line up a starting team without a single Spanish player against Eibar.
Three points from the Seville Derby during the week served as proof to Sampaoli’s dedication and determination which ultimately helped his team reach second spot in La Liga standings. Rojiblancos took full advantage of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid drawing their matches to join the leading pack, which is exactly where they intend to be until the end.
Jorge Sampaoli’s aim is to create a strong side, a winning team which would be capable of challenging for honours once again and it is fair to say he is on the right path.
Being a coach who never wants to stop being a protagonist, Jorge Sampaoli is tremendously passionate about attacking and his team is a mere reflection of his football ideology.
His preferred 4-1-3-2 formation has in multiple occasions looked more like 2-1-5-2 with his full-backs pushed high up the field in a bold and unconventional system that is a joy to watch, but hard to bear at times.
Still getting used to the new life under new coach and with the new squad, Sevilla are coming off from the immense change in relation to the previous regime and will have to be given more time before we all draw the final verdict.
However, from everything we have seen so far from Sampaoli’s early days – all signs point to Argentine manager having the requirements needed to succeed as Sevilla boss and possibly eclipse Emery’s reputable time in charge.
PSG boss’ shoes might be too big to fill with three UEFA Europa League titles sitting next to his name, but seventh-finish in last season’s edition of La Liga cast a shadow that Jorge Sampaoli is on a good path to get out of.
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