I dread international breaks. Sure, the lack of actual football always results in boredom and malaise and really stupid transfer rumors, but none of those are the bad part. The bad part is the introspection that such ennui forces me into. Not on, like, a personal level, but on a Viola level. In plain speech, the international breaks are when I try to figure out what the heck is going on at Fiorentina and whether or not I feel good about it.
Lord knows that this has been a tricky year to figure out. After selling nearly all the starters from the Paulo Sousa era and replacing them with a largely untested group, we were always in for a bumpy season, especially as they learned to play within Stefano Pioli‘s defensively demanding framework which would take the club away from the champagne football Vincenzo Montella had instigated in favor of a more muscular, modern, pressure-based approach. We predicted growing pains, and growing pains are what we’ve gotten.
The question, though, is whether we’ve witnessed growth—that is to say, progressive improvement in various phases of the game—or whether it’s just been change that hasn’t really helped anything, resulting in an entirely lost season. (Although it feels wrong to talk about losing anything this season after Davide Astori, but bear with me.)
Some of it’s a matter of perspective. After all, Federico Chiesa has clearly become the best player on the team and just got his first Italy cap, but he’s still struggling to get his end product right. Giovanni Simeone has had a few bright moments, but hasn’t scored since 5 January, a stretch of 8 goalless matches. Pretty much every player has been similarly uneven; Jordan Veretout and Milan Badelj have been consistently good, but play roles that tend to facilitate match-winning players rather than winning matches themselves.
There aren’t any good answers here, obviously. There’s no way to know if there’s progress being made until we can compare the final product (probably at season’s end) to the starting one. These international breaks give us the time to contemplate these questions, but don’t extend us a chance to obtain a definitive response, unlike at the end of the year when we can look back on the body of work as a whole. But even then, we get to look forward, worming our way through wild hypotheticals about what’s going to change in the upcoming season that will see the Viola return to their rightful place: challenging for the Champions League.
During these breaks, we’re denied even that pleasure. All kinds of things can (and very well may) happen in the remaining 10 games of the season that will dramatically alter how we perceive the lads and the mister. We can’t reasonably pass judgement on an incomplete work; all we can do is extrapolate, which is fun but not particularly nourishing, as we have to throw away all our conclusions as soon as further information (viz: the next match) comes to light. Instead, we’re stuck pondering the unponderable things, locked in a morass of our own minds, unsure what to believe, and with nothing to do but wait until rescue arrives.
But fear not, for it will arrive. Crotone visits the Franchi on Saturday, and we’ll be able to focus on football again. Just hang in there, friends. It gets better, and it gets better soon.
Here’s a quick rundown of which Viola players are on international duty.
Marco Sportiello is going to extend his stay in Florence if you believe the Corierre dello Sport, which we do. At least in this one thing.
Another reason to correlate international breaks with bad stuff: Viola fans assaulted the Empoli Primavera at the Viareggio Cup. I could barely put my disgust into words, but here they are.
In better news about young Italian players, Corvino is reportedly eyeing a talented teenager from Benevento.
And, if you like your transfer rumors on the unlikely side, how about this one about Germán Pezzella moving to Atlético Madrid?
Serie A finally has a new president, and he’ll probably do little to rock the boat. Full story here.
In another not so warm and fuzzy story, former Viola midfielder Christian Manfredini is going to jail for not paying child support. Don’t do that.
Since I just wrote about how stupid it is to judge the season when you can’t see all of it, how would you judge Fiorentina’s season thus far?
This poll is closed
Catastrophic. Sack the people who are responsible for sacking the people who sacked the people who made the decisions that led to this.
Pretty bad. I’m starting to consider buying a Poggibonsi jersey and officially changing my allegiance.
Meh. I remember beating Bayern in the Champions League, but I also remember Delio Rossi punching his own player the next year. This is solidly in the middle.
Fine. I may give my Poggibonsi jersey away to charity.
Wonderfully. This season has far exceeded my expectations, and I’m also definitely not Cyril Théréau. My name is, um, Thyril Céréau, which is very different.
Comment of the week
Sometimes the internet produces something that doesn’t suck, and baelfire found such a thing. This is really dang cool.
That’s it for this week, folks. Be careful out there. It can be dangerous.