So this season has sucked for Fiorentina. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The football has been at times unwatchable, every big win is followed up by a mind-numbingly bad loss or draw, and the worst part has been that you always know something bad is going to happen at any moment. While that last part is standard for Viola fans, we’re not satisfied with knowing that bad stuff has happened to this team. We want to quantify it.
So we’re looking at the final numbers for Fiorentina, stretching back over the previous 10 years to the 2006-2007 season, to try and figure out just how awful this year has been. Buckle in, because this is not going to be an especially pleasant ride.
2006-2007: 5th place, 68 points, 62 goals scored, 31 goals conceded
2007-2008: 4th place, 66 points, 55 goals scored, 39 goals conceded
2008-2009: 5th place, 68 points, 53 goals scored, 38 goals conceded
2009-2010: 11th place, 47 points, 48 goals scored, 47 goals conceded
2010-2011: 9th place, 51 points, 49 goals scored, 44 goals conceded
2011-2012: 13th place, 46 points, 37 goals scored, 43 goals conceded
2012-2013: 4th place, 70 points, 72 goals scored, 44 goals conceded
2013-2014: 4th place, 65 points, 65 goals scored, 44 goals conceded
2014-2015: 4th place, 64 points, 61 goals scored, 46 goals conceded
2015-2016: 5th place, 64 points, 60 goals scored, 42 goals conceded
And finally, here’s what we’re looking at now.
2016-2017: 8th place, 60 points, 63 goals scored, 57 goals conceded
How does that really stack up? Fiorentina has finished, on average over the 10 previous seasons, in 6.4th place in Serie A. Given the final frame from Cesare Prandelli and the lean years with Sinisa Mihajlovic and Delio Rossi, that’s actually pretty impressive. But, on average, the Viola aren’t that far away from where they usually end up.
Similarly, the 60.9 average points per season looks even better for the Viola, as this year’s edition finished pretty darn close. Given that 60.9 points is generally good for 6.4th in the table, it shows that Serie A is becoming increasingly top-heavy, as the good teams pile up more and more points at the top, while the middling and bad teams suffer in comparison.
Heck, the attack doesn’t even look to bad. With an average of 56.2 goals per season (although again, that’s dragged way down by the some odious Mihajlovic-ball), this year’s group over-achieved, relatively speaking. They even outscored all but one Prandelli team, which is pretty impressive. However, they’re still not on par with the peak Vincenzo Montella teams, which probably makes them suffer by comparison.
So what’s the big difference? Well, it’s pretty obvious. The defense has been simply atrocious. Compared to the average of 41.8 goals conceded per term, this year’s number is pretty damn high. 57 goals across a season comes out to 1.5 goals conceded per game. For comparison, 3rd place Napoli allowed 39. Atalanta and Lazio, in the Europa places, allowed 41 and 51 respectively. Leaking in 57 simply isn’t going to work.
For a manager like Paulo Sousa, whose calling card has always been a well-marshaled backline, 57 conceded is a pretty wretched number. He has squeezed a surprising number of goals out of this side, but they seem to come in bunches, and frequently against lower-table opponents, rather than evenly spread out and against quality opposition.
Still and all, though, 8th place isn’t out of line with where Fiorentina has tended to finish since re-establishing itself in Serie A. Between the Juventus hegemony, the rise of Napoli, the improvement of AS Roma and Lazio, and the recent injections of capital into AC Milan and Inter Milan, 8th is about what you’d expect in any given year. But rational management of expectations isn’t why we’re fans. We’re fans because we want to see this team compete at the highest possible level every year, and midtable finishes just aren’t going to cut it. Especially from theoretically defensive managers whose defenses couldn’t stop a 3-legged beagle from cruising down the pitch and scoring.