This may seem a little bit off-message coming from a dude who just wrote this, but it still bears discussing. Fiorentina are going to lose. Probably not against SPAL this week at the Artemio Franchi. But a midweek fixture against Lazio looks awfully tough. In 3 weeks, Napoli comes to town too. And a season-ending match at the San Siro against AC Milan is just asking for trouble. This win streak—6 and counting—has been balm on the agonized souls of Viola fans, but it’s not going to last forever.
So when the lads eventually drop points, or walk off the pitch after a loss, how are we going to react? This seems like a stupid question for any number of reasons, but I’d like to address the three things that, to me, feel like the biggest.
After winning everything for Astori, losing will feel like a betrayal.
Much has been made of the Viola’s form since the death of Davide Astori, and with good reason. The captain was probably the best player in the side, an established international with a sterling record in Serie A. Without his presence in the back line and in the dressing room, the lads could have been forgiven for falling apart.
Instead, Astori’s passing has unified the squad like nothing else. The players run their lungs out every match and give every last milligram of themselves to the cause in a way that they hadn’t before. Having shared in such a traumatic experience, these players now share a deeper (albeit sadder) connection than most teams will ever have, and the rallying cry has been, “For Davide!” Every pre- and post-match media session has been the grounds for the players to emphasize and re-emphasize that everything they do this year is for the fallen number 13.
If playing their hearts out and winning every match is how they honor him, then a loss could easily feel like a grand betrayal. While no rational person could ever actually espouse such an opinion, it’s the sort of insidious feeling that worms its way into your brain, slyly repeating itself just before you fall asleep and leaving echoes in your skull. The positivity in the squad right now has been a joy to watch, but the slightest bit of negativity could blow it all up in an instant.
We’ll have to readjust our expectations on the fly.
Two months ago, nobody really thought that Fiorentina would qualify for the Europa League. Now that they’re Serie A’s hottest team, though, we suddenly think that they can compete with anyone. That may be true: emotion can carry a team further than you might expect. However, this is still the same collection of players that got thrashed 1-4 at the Franchi by Hellas Verona. The same group that dropped points against 10-man SPAL. The same group that coughed up a win against Chievo Verona.
While it’s possible that the confidence and extra grinta that the group has displayed this past month and a half is enough to carry them forward by itself, the squad as currently constituted simply isn’t as good as Lazio’s or Napoli’s or Milan’s. This is not to insult the players, who have been better than just about anyone (including me) expected. But when you’re up against teams chock full of international stars and capocannoniere candidates, you can’t expect wins every single time. Emotion can get you far, but only so far.
With such a tight race for Europa League qualification, any dropped points will sting.
We recently looked at the race for the last two Europa League qualification spots in Serie A. While the Viola are sitting pretty right now, the race is absurdly tight, and every point looks to be vital if we want to see a purple party in Europe next year. When Fiorentina inevitably fails to obtain full points, it’s going to deal a blow to those dreams.
The Della Valles’ interest and investment levels seem to parallel the team’s form.
This is maybe the most concerning for the future. The Della Valles’ support for the project is inconstant, and it seems like a string of poor results makes them want to distance themselves from the team rather than reinvest. After they spent much of the summer and fall publicly discussing the odds of their selling the club, they’re back in all the way. Diego is talking about making some noise in the mercato, and Andrea is back on the board after a year-long absence.
If they’re just caught up in the general excitement surrounding a team that’s won 6 in a row and is the hottest outfit on the peninsula right now, a loss could throw some cold water on their ardor and return them to the disinterested, feckless state that we got all too familiar with these past few seasons. With the heavy investment in youth, that means that they could be transitioning Fiorentina to a pure selling club, good for unearthing and polishing talent before selling it to the big boys. I really don’t like the idea of becoming an Ajax or a Southampton, but a downturn in form could point us in that direction.
This is a truism, yeah, but there’s usually some truth in a truism. Scroll back to the comment sections the last time this team lost and you will find a group of fans who are sad and grouchy and not looking forward to the next match, much less a race for the European places. Since Fiorentina started winning, the tone around this entire site has shifted dramatically. It’s just a little more evidence that we live in a causative universe.
This is, for me, the most worrying part of the eventual loss. It won’t be letting down Astori, even though certain rogue parts of our minds might think so. It won’t mean that the team is suddenly terrible. It won’t mean that the Euro League is out of reach. It won’t mean that the DVs are washing their hands of all things Viola for once and for all. It won’t mean anything, other than that the victor in the match scored more goals than the loser; any attempts to assign more meaning, metaphysical or otherwise, are fools’ errands.
But that doesn’t make a loss any more pleasant, either. I hate writing up losses, and I hate looking through the comments and seeing the animus that losing brings. It’s selfish, but losing makes this way less fun for me, and I’m bracing myself for it every week. Because it’s going to happen, and it’s going to suck, and it’s going to be another infinitesimally brief point in time that will pass us by and everything will be okay.