By now we’ve all heard that Stefano Pioli resigned his position as Fiorentina coach this morning. While he’s yet to release a statement to the press, it’s clear that the club’s form over the past two months is the main culprit, along with the lack of support from upper management during that span.
It really feels like club brass wanted him to resign rather than fire him outright, given yesterday’s official press release demanding more from the team; given the Della Valles’ history with coaches, this feels like another petty power move (and one that will prevent them from having to pay him for the rest of the season), especially since the rest of his staff remains employed—top assistant (aka Piolus II) Giacomo Murelli is in charge of training today in what is doubtless a very awkward practice session.
While it seems like yesterday’s statement pushed Pioli into resigning (requesting that the coach be “more serious” is pretty insulting), we won’t know for sure until he gives his side of the story. What we do know, however, is that, despite his limitations as a tactician, he is an excellent human being who held the team together through the darkest hour in its history. His grace, poise, and empathy in the wake of Davide Astori’s death was inspirational and will go down as part of Fiorentina’s history and legend.
That wasn’t all, though. Never one to shy away from responsibility, he was always willing to put the team’s shortcomings on himself. He seemed to enjoy a deep rapport with his players based on his genuine affection for them. Remember when he got a DA13 tattoo on his wrist? Remember when he stayed up until 2:30 AM to meet the bus that brought Christian Nørgaard to Florence so that he could be the first person that the Dane met when he arrived in the city? Remember when he was serenaded by fans at the gas station after the 3-3 draw against Inter Milan and bought them sandwiches?
If nothing else, the mister deserved a chance to coach his team through the rest of its Coppa Italia run; a win in Atalanta next week will see the Viola reach its first cup final since 2014. The Serie A season is over and will go down as the worst since the Siniša Mihajlović/Delio Rossi year that resulted in a 13th place finish, and for that reason Pioli was rightfully denied a contract extension, meaning he would have left at season’s end anyways. He reportedly enjoyed a strong rapport with his players, so it’s a bit tough on them to see him pushed away like this too; whether or not that’ll be reflected in their performance remains to be seen.
Rest assured that we’ll address the repercussions of Pioli’s exit in other articles down the road. But for now, let’s bid the mister farewell. His contributions to the club aren’t apparent in the standings, but none of the players or fans will forget his work last year, and that alone is enough to earn him our most heartfelt thank yous.