I was a pretty weird kid. I didn’t really play with the other kids much, opting to spend time by myself and to read books instead. Because I was also very small, this led to me getting bullied a lot in school. I was lucky, though, because I grew about 6 inches and 60 pounds when I was 15, after which the bullies mostly went looking for smaller and easier targets and left me to develop some rudimentary social skills.
That’s why, as a kid, I was always furious when some well-meaning grownup waxed lyrical about the joys of childhood. “Yeah, maybe you had a really easy first couple of decades,” I thought, “But for some of us, this is life and death every day. Some of us honestly don’t think we’re going to get out of this.”
This is not an uncommon story, I don’t think. Most of us on here have probably been through some unpleasant stuff as children. It feels like it’s going to crush or throttle or otherwise destroy us utterly or at least disfigure us beyond recognition. Then we get older, gain a greater perspective, and realize how trivial some of our previous concerns were and how valid others were. We’ve got more experiences to compare against each other, which means there’s a greater range of feelings we can draw on to understand how we feel.
But that’s not always enough. Sometimes we run into stuff that’s too different or too scary or too damn big to dispassionately compare to our previous lives and classify. It doesn’t matter how old we get or what other things we’ve been through: there’s always something—big or small—that can grab you by the nape of the neck, shake you around, and drop you sprawling in the dirt and wondering what the hell just happened.
As Fiorentina walks into the Stadio Friuli, there’s no way to tell how the players are going to cope. It’s been nearly a month since Davide Astori was found dead in his hotel room in Udine, and now these people have to go back there and play a game. Yes, they’re well-compensated professionals and yes, there are other tragedies in the world (shut the hell up, Dani Alves). But these young men (I realize that I’m older than nearly everyone on the roster) are dealing with a set of emotions for which neither they nor anybody they know has a point of reference.
Some of the boys may not sleep the night before, or they may not eat, or they may just have the jitters or the yips. Maybe they’ll go out and feel a sense of camaraderie and give their entire selves for their teammates and run Udinese off the pitch. Maybe they’ll disintegrate and lose 10-0. Maybe it’ll be an ugly, scrappy match. Maybe it’ll be an all-timer.
Whatever happens, though, is trivial. These players are the ones we support and pin our hopes on and yell ourselves hoarse at. We elevate them to a nearly mythical status because they can do nearly mythical things, whether that’s Federico Chiesa bursting past another clutch of defenders or Jordan Veretout knowing exactly where he is, where his teammates are, and where the ball needs to go 5 seconds before it reaches him. But for all that hero-worship, let’s break the first rule of fandom this time and support these flawed and talented men just because they’re having to do something strange and sad and uncomfortable, not because of the shirts they’re wearing.
So to hell with the result. For this one, I just want our beautiful boys to be okay.
Emiliano Mondonico, who led Fiorentina back to Serie A, has passed away aged 71. Here is our tribute.
Don’t forget that Fiorentina play tomorrow at Udinese to make up the match that was canceled when Davide Astori died. Here is our full coverage, which currently is a preview but will contain all the usual stuff by tomorrow.
The international break gave us time to wonder what Fiorentina would look like if the squad was entirely constructed of former Primavera players. Take a look.
Gil Dias got himself a very nice goal for the Portugal U21s. Enjoy.
Catch up with the Viola players out on loan in Serie A, Serie B, and outside of Italy.
We asked yall who should captain the club in Milan Badelj’s absence, and yall gave us answers.
Comment of the week
J-Mel da Wise #1 presents a thoughtful bit of thanks to Pioli and club management, which I assume means that the end times are just around the corner.
That’s it for this week, folks. Shine your shoes. You’ll feel better afterwards.