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BatiGol Weekly 94: The middle

In which we discuss long-term projects, patience, and 2.10 of Horace’s Odes.

SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
It just takes some time.
Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

We’re rapidly approaching the halfway point of this Serie A season, and Fiorentina supporters are not thrilled. 4 straight matches without a win—including a loss to freaking Crotone and a desperate comeback to grab a point against SPAL—provide a surplus of ammunition for the grumbling segment of the tifosi, who don’t like seeing their team sit in the most midtable of spots (11th), especially after the soul-bludgeoning year and a half they just endured under Paulo Sousa.

If you’re looking for reasons to be dissatisfied, you don’t have to look too far. 11th place is awfully low for a team that had European aspirations as recently as last season, but it’s the way that 11th place has been attained that’s the real sticking point. Stefano Pioli has run his charges onto the pitch time and again in the exact same manner, resulting in similar results every time. The defense forgets to mark at set pieces: centerbacks have scored against the Gigliati in 3 matches on the trot. The best you can say about the midfield is that it’s scrappy, but the complete inability to control the center of the park is a bitter pill to swallow after watching Borja Valero run the show for half a decade. The forwards don’t score and frequently seem to be in each other’s way. And none of these problems show any sign of improving.

The optimist, however, will point to the outrageous youth across the side, particularly in midfield and in the attack, as a major reason to expect improvement. After all, as these kids mature, they’re going to get better and better. It’s also worth remembering that it takes time to build a completely new team identity, which is what Fiorentina is doing after 5 years of possession-based play. Having torn down the former setup, it’s going to take awhile to get everyone at the club, both on the pitch and in the boardroom, on the same page, and this year was always going to be a bit of a wash. Any positive results from it are going to be strictly bonus. Next year, though, we can start getting ready for the good stuff.

This is probably a good time to tie this in with Horace, who’s one of my favorite Roman poets. In Odes 2.10, the poet reminds us to avoid both “the squalor of a dirty house” and “the palace that must be envied.” The Venusian genius’ wisdom about setting reasonable expectations while not entirely surrendering hopes is some that we could probably stand to listen to. Remember what we expected at the beginning of this new project and try not to move the goalposts too far back, while also not over-celebrating minor achievements. Or, to put it in the terms of another great philosopher/artist,

Latest news

Fiorentina snatched a point at the Olimpico against Lazio in the most dramatic fashion possible. Reread all our coverage here, but make sure you’re ready for heart palpitations.

In case you’d forgotten how lucky we are to be Viola fans—going winless over the previous 4 match days is a good way to forget that—here are 11 reasons to be thankful.

Comment of the week

Giovanni Simeone has justifiably endured some criticism around here, but m.atthew provided us with a healthy dose of perspective about the young striker.


Which classical poet would you like to see more references to on this website?

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That’s it for this week, folks. Read some Roman poetry. Seriously. It’s great.