It has been a tough few months to be a Fiorentina fan this summer. Even though there had been rumblings of discontent between Vincenzo Montella and the Della Valles, we all had to overcome the shock of his sudden and unceremonious sacking. Then came the anxiety of waiting for a new manager to be appointed.
Once Paulo Sousa was in place, we had to endure the agonising saga of Mohamed Salah playing a game of cat and mouse that was frustrating and exhausting for all concerned. Players exited the club in droves and new signings were few and far between. There was even a tearjerking goodbye from Mario Gomez.
Yet despite being on the emotional roller coaster all summer off the field, the fans have somehow emerged in the middle of August with something positive to clutch onto. A wave of optimism has somehow cut through the doom and gloom... but how? In order to make some sense out of this, we have taken a look back at the preseason game.
The preseason period kicked off in Moena with a trio of friendlies against local side Trentino, Hungarian team Gyirmot and newly promoted Carpi. A side consisting of mainly youngsters roundly thrashed Trentino 10-0 with 16 year old Abdou Lahat Diakhaté putting in an eye-catching performance. Ten goals were reduced to none in the next game as Gyirmot held the viola to a 0-0 draw with Fiorentina suffering from a lack of physicality and being out muscled from the ball by the stronger Hungarians. The retreat was rounded off with a 2-0 win over Carpi and a particularly pleasing performance from Giuseppe Rossi.
Next up was the International Champions Cup friendly tournament, and much to the delight of our US based fans, Fiorentina made the transatlantic flight for the match against Paris Saint Germain in New Jersey. The high point of the game was a penalty won and converted by Pepito in front of his hometown crowd which included several members of the Viola Nation community. A shaky defensive performance, however, resulted in a 4-2 victory for the super-rich Ligue 1 team.
New signing Mario Suárez made his debut against Benfica in Hartford, Connecticut; a game that ended in a 0-0 draw in normal time. Fiorentina triumphed on penalties 5-4, with young Luca Lezzerini saving the decisive spot kick. The game was perhaps most notable for a poor performance from Khouma Babacar and a sparkling one from Joaquín.
It was at home against European superpower Barcelona when the preseason performances really stepped up a gear. A well fought but unexpected victory came thanks to two superb goals from Federico Bernardeschi and a stunning goalkeeping performance from Ciprian Tătăruşanu. A confidence boosting result in front of a large home crowd was just what the doctor ordered.
There was no time to rest on the laurels of victory for the squad as Premier League champions Chelsea were next on the fixture list at Stamford Bridge. José Mourinho's men were no match for the mighty viola though, as another hard working performance and a goal from bomber Gonzalo Rodríguez saw Fiorentina close out the victory against high calibre opponents once again to finish off the tournament on a high.
A much easier run out in the penultimate friendly saw Fiorentina travel to local Lega Pro team Lucchese, which ended in a 3-0 victory for the away team, despite an uncharacteristically hesitant performance from Tătăruşanu. And finally the very last competitive match before Fiorentina take on AC Milan on Sunday was against visiting Greek team Iraklis - notable for the debut of new signing Nikola Kalinić and a wonder strike from distance from Josip Iličić to take the victory at 2-1.
What does all this mean ahead of the start of the season? Does the pre-season campaign fill you with optimism? Let us know what you think in the comments!