Although we are already covered in the slimy ooze of mercato rumors, it still feels too soon to completely move on from the spectacular season we just had. This was a special campaign in many ways, from the stylish football to the crazy swings of fortune, and perhaps most happily, to the 20% increase in fan attendance at the stadium. Excitement has grown in the Fiorentina camp once again, the team will be challenging in Europe again, and I wanted to wear the rose-colored glasses for just a little bit longer before strapping on my binoculars.
So, in what I hope will be a recurring feature, here are some final grades and special prizes for Fiorentina's 2012-2013 season.
Solid on and off the ball. His "return" is not quite complete, and he had a dip in form (like everyone else) in January and February, but he has since been as good as I've ever seen him. He has deservedly returned to the national team, and we can only expect better next season. Also, how about that assist against Inter?
Slow but solid in the tackle and smart with his positioning. He was a huge addition to the Viola back line in the second half of the season, and should be around next year.
Had an ok half-season when called upon.
You can't say enough about our Vespa. His pace and trickery terrify defenders, he runs inexhaustibly, and as the season has gone on, he has grown smarter in his distribution and more cynical in front of goal. He will be key for us in Serie A and Europe next year.
Mounir El Hamdaoui
Mounir scrapes a "B" largely thanks to his performances in the first half of the season, with a couple crucial goals. After January he apparently started training with Larrondo.
Largely disappointing, but the class on the ball is there. Criminally wasteful for most of the season, but he showed more confidence and bright flashes in the last couple months of the season. He will probably return and play better next season.
Often anonymous, occasionally imprecise, and too often lazy. But when he is in the mood, his genius shows. Fabulous goals against the other big clubs in the second half of the season.
The "plus" is for surprising everyone (myself included... I actually burst out laughing in disbelief) with an actually spectacular Batistuta-like goal away at Atalanta. Otherwise he performed like the Serie B player I more-than-suspect he is.
Meh / D / ? (4,5)
I remember a couple bad crosses. That's about all.
Even in the first half of the season, you could tell that this was a player really starting to mature and play to his full potential; I assumed that he just had an incurable allergy to putting the ball in the back of the net (maybe a genetic disease?). Whatever it was, he's seen the right doctors, because he was lethal in front of goal after February. A player entering his prime who works very hard off the ball, has a nose for goal, and opens up defenses with dribbling and great vision. Can't be more pleased for Adem.
A useful player squad, unselfish and strong in the air. Gives commentators nightmares when paired with Borja, and he looks like Vin Diesel.
I had high hopes for this kid, but he appears to lack both the physical and the mental characteristics required to be a goalkeeper at the highest level. The goal he allowed against Udinese was obscene.
Technically speaking, he is one of the least gifted in our starting eleven (my Dad has, for years, rued how he never dribbles by his man), but our captain has been rock-solid defensively, tireless up and down the left side, and still has a delicious left-footed delivery. He showed a captain's character, and should have been in the national team squad.
Barely squeaks an A, his solidity from the penalty spot outweighing his occasional costly blunder. One of the key players for Montella's system, he is a fantastic player having a "good" season by his standards.
Marshaled the defense, flawless in the tackle, and excluding the occasionally half-baked pass, his distribution was essential. One of our "bombers" of the season too, with an impressive goal haul. What a signing.
He had a pretty awful first half of the season in the middle of the pitch, but was a key stopgap after January. Listed as a right back on Wikipedia, he played a bit of everywhere down the right and in the middle. Useful player who had a useful season.
We were all very excited about Facundo, until his naiveté (both positionally and in the tackle) were exposed by various sides. Let's hope the offseason helps our warrior grow mentally.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Nastasic, but Savic hasn't let us down. Physically gifted, great in the air, and strong in the challenge. Still growing tactically and in terms of distribution, but he should still be a staple of the back line next year.
It's really hard to break into that midfield, to be fair.
He's been confirmed by the Fiorentina front office after a very good campaign. Another gritty and positionally flexible defender for the Viola defense.
Impossible to overrate. Class with and without the ball, he never stops running and working. Opens up defenses on the run, precise ball delivery from set pieces, and almost never loses the ball. After only one season both him and his adorable family are royalty in Florence. If only he was a little more cynical near goal...
All in all, his campaign wasn't terrible, but if there is one position where Fiorentina fans expect the highest level of play, it's from their goalkeeper. Hard to forget the game at Roma, but he made some big stops at Lazio. Montella appears to almost definitely be pointing in another direction for next season, but Emiliano will remain one of us wherever he goes.
Giuseppe Rossi, Rafal Wolski, Ahmed Hegazi, Michele Camporese
A+ for Potential
He had Fiorentina playing coherently and cohesively from the first game, and also showed the tactical savvy to change the system when it was required. He completely outsmarted Strammaccioni and Petkovic, and I would also put to his credit the seasons of individuals like Ljajic and Pasqual. Long may Montella Style reign at the Franchi.
SPECIAL PRIZES FOR EXCEPTIONAL BRILLIANCE AND/OR INEPTITUDE
Whichever haircut removed Viviano's sideburns.
Most Controversial Neckwear
Dat scarf (Montella wore it at the San Siro against Milan). I say it's a B+ at the very least.
Goal of the Season
Lots of contenders here, but for me it was the Jovetic opener at Lazio, with Borja's marvelous dummy wrong-footing the entire Lazio defense.
As slakas pointed out, there were many shoulda-coulda-wouldas this season, but I really would have liked us to have won that 0-0 draw against Juve in the fall. It was there for the taking, and could have changed the season.
Anyone who racially abuses Balotelli. Leave Florence please.
Cuadrado against Bologna, before he found his scoring boots...
Most Hilarious Refereeing Decision
70% of Pizarro's yellow cards.
While Cuadrado's dancing has jerky-fascination to it, it's no contest: Andrea Della Valle takes the cake. Here he is at the end of the home opener against Udinese, in a most amusing little video.
Special Thanks For...
Prade and Macia, who made this season happen with their shrewd purchases, and we can only trust that they continue their brilliance this summer as well. A+.
Please feel free to comment with your own best / worst of below, bitterly complain about my grades, and stay tuned for a mercato round-up early next week!
*Missed Romulo when first published.