EXCLUSIVE: Giuseppe Sannino on coaching Watford, Dybala's talent & Italy's Euro hopes


EXCLUSIVE: Giuseppe Sannino on coaching Watford, Dybala's talent & Italy's Euro hopes

Giuseppe Sannino has coached in Italy, England and beyond
Giuseppe Sannino has coached in Italy, England and beyondProfimedia
From Sicily to London, to Libya and now Switzerland. Football has taken the charismatic and passionate Giuseppe Sannino (66) right around the world. And he's encountered greatness - from the unlimited potential of a young Paulo Dybala to the volcanic approach of Palermo's former president Maurizio Zamparini.

Now working in Switzerland, where he is in his second year with the lower league side FC Paradiso, Sannino was happy to chat with Tribal Football about his career and the characters he's mixed with.

A former Serie A coach with the likes of Palermo and Siena, Sannino also famously had a spell in the Championship in charge of Watford. It was a period which saw the Italian oversee a record-breaking run of victories for the Hornets.

The following season, Watford would open the 2014/15 season with four out of five wins, yet player power saw Sannino ousted that August. Giuseppe would resign 24 hours after victory over Huddersfield Town. Yet, it was a period in his career that he still treasures, as he made clear in this Q&A.

Tribal Football: "Let's begin with Watford - how do you now regard that time in your career?"

Sannino: "I remember that I played my first match against Ipswich Town away, and the stadium was full and the atmosphere was fantastic. When we got out of the changing rooms onto the pitch I remember that the fans of the opposition team were asking me for pictures with them!

"The most beautiful thing was that when the match finished, you with your staff and the opponent's coach with his staff got together for a glass of wine and some discussions about everything.

"The stadiums there are much better than in Italy, and the training centres there are much better than in Italy. Their mentality is so different from ours in Italy, and you could notice it in every aspect with the players during the training, the fans during the match and after the match, with the media, etc."

"So where does the Vicarage Road experience stand in your career?"

"Well, the most beautiful experience for me was Varese because taking the team from last place, we in three years managed to win two titles and almost were promoted to Serie A. Also at Siena, we did a great job, and the thing I am the most proud of in my career is that I was chosen as a coach for the team after (Antonio) Conte because Conte had left Siena (for Juventus) and they hired me as their coach.

"Then after Siena, I went to Palermo and I gave everything for the team and the fans appreciated it a lot."

Sannino on the sidelines during his time at Watford
Sannino on the sidelines during his time at WatfordProfimedia

"What about the most difficult?"

"Regarding the most difficult experience, I would say with Chievo, because there the club didn't exist we were working in hard conditions, and in a moment where we were getting some results, they fired me and I didn't understand why.

"Then after that, I tried my first experience outside Italy and I became the coach of Watford. It was an amazing experience for me, I enjoyed it a lot and also I learned a lot there."

"You were twice hired by Zamparini at Palermo. How was that relationship?"

"For me, Zamparini was a person who understood a lot about football and he knew a lot regarding football. But the only mistake or problem he had with me was that he listened to too many people around him regarding the decisions to make.

"For him, I could talk for hours and only positively about all the things he did in the football world. During my time at Palermo, I had the chance to coach (Paulo) Dybala, (Fabrizio) Miccoli, (Josip) Ilicic, (Steve) von Bergen, etc. I created a wonderful connection with the city and the fans and I am extremely happy and proud to have been the coach of Palermo, I hope they can return to Serie A as soon as possible because that city, those fans deserve to be in Serie A."

"Now Palermo have been reborn and are part of the City Football Group. Is that a good thing for the club and city?"

"So when City Football Group took Palermo, it demonstrated the importance of the club and their history. City Football Group doesn't buy clubs that do not have a history and importance. From what I have heard their plan is very ambitious and the project they have in mind regarding Palermo is important."

"You coached some great players in Serie A, who stands out?"

"Regarding one of the strongest players I have coached, I can say Franco Brienza during my time at Siena, also I can mention Paolo Dybala. Regarding the strongest opponent I have faced, I will say (Francesco) Totti because playing against him was almost impossible.

"But despite all these players, I want to mention all those who have permitted me to become the coach I am today, who helped me to arrive in Serie A."

"Watching on, what have you made of this season's Serie A?"

"The biggest disappointment for me is of course Napoli because I didn't believe they would have so many problems this season. I understood that Napoli would not be the same as soon as Luciano (Spalletti) left. After the departure of Spalletti, anyone who would have arrived would have had many problems.

"Milan has not been stable this season, the same we can say about Roma and Lazio. Fiorentina has improved so much in the last two years, Juventus is having a great season and when I hear the critics towards (Massimiliano) Allegri I am shocked because how you can critique a coach like him who has won so many titles?

"In contrast, Inter this year has been stable, has produced great performances and they are the favourite to win the title, and still I don't understand the critics against a coach like (Simone) Inzaghi who every year is producing great performances and is winning different titles."

Serie A standings at the time of writing
Serie A standings at the time of writingFlashscore

"What of one of your old clubs, Salernitana - and with Filippo Inzaghi now in charge?"

"Salernitana didn't start well the season and lost a lot of points in the beginning. It seemed from the outside that something between the coach Sousa and the club was broken. They changed the coach and hired a very good one with Inzaghi, but he arrived in a very difficult situation.

"Now we also see (Walter) Sabatini has returned, who knows very well how to handle these kinds of situations and problems. I hope they can stay in Serie A again."

"You know what it takes to win promotion from Serie B, any early tips for this season?"

"The Serie B is a long journey and you never know what will happen. I think the favourite to win the league this season is Parma, they have a great team with a very good coach and this year they have been stable in their performances.

"For me the surprise of this season is Catanzaro, also Cremonese now with coach (Giovanni) Stroppa is doing a good season. The only piece that is missing is Sampdoria, every one of us expected that the team of (Andrea) Pirlo would be in a better position. He must know it's a very difficult league and different teams will fight until the last minute in every game."

"You clearly admire Spalletti. What are your hopes for Italy at the Euros?"

"After Mancini left, we made a great choice by getting the best coach in the league. We needed in this moment a coach like him. We've come from a difficult period and it has affected a lot the fact that we didn't qualify for two World Cups in a row. This Euros is a chance for us to get ourselves back on the right track.

"It's not easy because we have other teams that are stronger than us, but I think we can have our say there.

"One thing that I would add is that in the last few years, we have not been as attached to our national team as before. We need to fix this problem and we need to bring the fans closer to our national team like what happens in different countries around the world."


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