Well, that’s another Fiorentina season in the books. Once again, the Viola finish without any silverware, without European competition, without a set team identity, and without any solid future. The roster is full of holes, the man in charge of getting the most out of it sure doesn’t seem up to the task. The management isn’t providing the right players, and the ownership isn’t providing enough money. As the rest of Serie A trends upwards, Firenze’s finest are pointing down.
And it’s not fair, because Fiorentina have done everything right this year. Last year made it abundantly clear that the Viola had progressed as far as they could in the project they’d begun under Vincenzo Montella 5 years ago. Clearing out every valuable and popular player on the roster hurt, but we all knew it was the right choice, especially as Corvino re-invested in a raft of talented and hungry youngsters. After half a decade of Montella-style possession play, the club brought in a manager in Stefano Pioli who had a reputation for well-drilled, direct football and record of nurturing talented young attackers.
Things started off pretty roughly, of course. None of these players knew each other, and it was quite clear in how the expressed themselves on the pitch. While there were promising moments, we saw a lot more chaos than development. Still, though, everyone knows that every long-term rebuild comes with some real bumps along the way. Even with all the adversity, we could hold out hope that we were seeing a foundation that would catapult Fiorentina into the future.
Instead, we got tragedy. The death of Davide Astori hit everyone so hard in their most vulnerable places; I was too distraught and distracted to get anything done for a week, and I can only imagine it was worse for his teammates. After such an unspeakable and unforeseen loss, nobody would have held it against the lads to crumble into mid- or lower-table over the rest of the year.
Instead, they responded with the sort of collective effort and teamwork that’s usually reserved for Disney movies. A record-setting win streak rocketed Fiorentina back into the Europa conversation. Vitor Hugo and Nikola Milenković showed that they were ready to step into the captain’s shoes. Jordan Veretout began bossing the midfield. Giovanni Simeone became a goal-scoring monster. Federico Chiesa bloomed into a genuine international-quality winger. The Viola, according to the narrative, had grown a beautiful season out of an infinite sadness.
It couldn’t last. With this team, it never does. A late season swoon probably wasn’t that surprising, considering the inexperience all over the side. A few poor results saw the team lose focus, and things went from bad to worse. With two weeks left, Fiorentina simply needed to win its two remaining matches to qualify for the Europa League. Instead, the team melted down completely. The 8th place finish they achieved that would have felt like a triumph a few months ago suddenly turned to ashes in the mouth. And now, there are rumors that every top player in the squad is on the outs for a second year running: Chiesa, Milan Badelj, Veretout, Simeone, Cristiano Biraghi. Just like that, we’re right back where we were last year.
And you know what? I cannot imagine anything that is more emblematic of Fiorentina. An indifferent start followed by tremendous adversity followed by magnificence followed by heartbreak is the cycle that every edition of the Viola goes through. We aren’t here because we want trophies or silverware or success. We’re here because we’re romantics and Fiorentina is, underneath all the heartbreak and the woe, a romantic side. It’s been an odd and painful season, and I hope we never have to suffer through another one, and I wouldn’t trade if for anything.
How do you feel about being a Viola fan right now?
This poll is closed
Pretty good, actually
On the other hand, another attacker probably wouldn’t hurt either. Rodolfo Pizzaro would be perfect if the Viola can convince him.
Radio Bruno named Federico Chiesa as Fiorentina’s best player under 25. I mean, they’re not wrong; it just seems a bit redundant.
If you feel like getting kicked in the nards, you can reread all our coverage of the AC Milan match here. But only do that if you feel like getting kicked in the nards. Again, if you don’t feel like getting kicked in the nards, then don’t click that link.
The rumor mill has slung Mario Balotelli out as a possible Fiorentina transfer target. We have some thoughts on that.
In honor of Chiesa’s most recent award, we asked yall to choose who else in the squad deserved awards, and you did not disappoint.
With the season over, we’ve started reviewing how the lads who left Florence on loan have done. We’re starting with a pair of defenders who had mixed success in Serie A.
Comment of the week
Gaze upon the majesty of Gigi Bouffant, courtesy the magical workshop of Catalogue.
That’s it for this week, folks. Breathe deeply.