After the official announcement last night of Cesare Prandelli’s return to Fiorentina, today was his first chance to explain his emotions and plans to the press, and more importantly to the fans.
Prandelli was accompanied by Daniele Pradè, who first of all thanked Beppe Iachini, also on behalf of Rocco Commisso and Joe Barone, saying what a pleasure and honour it was to have worked with him. Cesare had actually bumped into the man he replaced when he arrived at the club today. He spoke of how they embraced and that he never thought he would be here taking Iachini’s place.
Before taking any questions he told us how he hadn’t slept much last night and how is first thought was that if Ciccio was here (Alessandro Rialti, popular journalist who sadly passed away earlier this year) what he would have said to him. How he probably would have almost insulted him or called him assassin as he always did, while Cesare’s name for him was the terrorist.
He also revealed how he had received a midnight telephone call a few weeks ago, from Genoa president, Enrico Preziosi. Preziosi had surprised him by asking if he was ready? Without first saying who he had talked to, he told Prandelli that he had spoken very highly of him and how he was convinced that they will come looking for him. He was of course talking about Fiorentina, and Cesare wanted to thank Preziosi publicly
The first question he faced was about what this adventure could give him at this stage of his life and also what he can give to Fiorentina?
“In my life, in the last 15 years, I’ve always had Fiorentina in my thoughts. I think I’m the only manager to have bought season tickets to see the team. Wherever I’ve been, I’ve always loved this club because of how it welcomed me and gave me so much and I hope to be able to give just as much back in the next few months”
Prandelli had spoken recently about how he felt Christian Kouamé was not an out and out striker and Sofyan Amrabat was not a regista, and having seen all of Fiorentina’s games so far what ideas has he for the team?
“Let’s say that I do have some ideas but first I need to meet the players because they are the ones who need to believe in any eventual change. I said Kouamé is not a point of reference but he can be a second striker who can give depth to the team. It depends what you mean by a regista, if you mean someone who dictates the play and stays in the one position then that’s not Amrabat, he has extraordinary qualities, he has a great engine. This team also has a good engine and we need to get it going again and understand why it hasn’t been able to change rhythm in the last few games, we have the foundations here to be able to do a good job”
Asked about what kind of Prandelli Fiorentina have now, he spoke of his love for the club:
“If you take away romance from life it becomes boring, you need to live with emotions and deep sentiments. The love that I have for this club is very deep. I haven’t set any conditions, I’ve put myself at the club’s service and I hope to be able to repay them. I have a double responsibility, not just as a manager but also as a fan, sometimes I’ll speak to the players as a real supporter would. Things do change, but it’s impossible not to have hunger in Florence about the Viola, I live in Florence so I know what it means, it’s a very particular city, it’s very demanding, so we need to be good at understanding where we are, where we work and what the people want. If we can manage to take that first step, then we can be forgiven for any mistakes which we’ll no doubt make. The most important thing is to have great respect for the city and the fans”
What made him accept risking his relationship with the fans by agreeing to return?
“My heart made me do it, and my instinct. Very often I met fans on the street who asked me to come back, but I never would have left, we all know the story. There is potential at this club, it’s ambitious and wants to have a great team, it wants to be at the highest level internationally. It’s an important challenge, even if I do risk ruining that relationship with the fans, but from the moment I accepted, I knew I would never be alone on this path”
He then spoke about his first impressions of the owner:
“In Rocco Commisso and Joe Barone I found two people of enormous human sensibility. Before we spoke about our work, they first wanted to speak to Beppe and to thank him, and it’s not easy to find people like this in the world of football”
On the players needing to have a sense of belonging:
“It’s very easy, you just need to live the city, and understand the mood of the fans. Most importantly, the team that wears this jersey has to hold it’s head high, give everything they have. We need to remove all the mental obstacles and have the courage to do things, Florence needs bravery. Then we’ll be rewarded, because I know the fans expect a lot, but that’s only right, this is Florence, where everything came from, art, culture; they don’t feel second best to anyone. Obviously there are teams stronger than us but the Florentines never start a match already beaten. We’ll encounter a lot of difficulties, I haven’t arrived with a magic wand and in a week I’ll manage to find all the answers, but if we can start off and have this sense of belonging as a foundation it will already be something great”
On his relationship with the previous owners, the Della Valle:
“I’ve always said that for 4 and a half years we had a relationship based on respect and trust and the will to improve every year. In those last few months the technical project and ambitions changed, which can happen after a many years. The memories however are always good ones”
About his ambitions for the club:
“My dream, my wish is to be able in a few weeks to have a pro-active team, a brave team, a team afraid of nothing or nobody. I don’t have any expectations for the future, I just want to put myself at the service of the club, because I’m convinced I can do the job and that this is a squad with good potential”
When questioned on what he would ask of the fans:
“I don’t need to ask anything of the fans. You just need to listen, by listening you can avoid mistakes. There’s a private and social life that is much more important right now compared to what we do. We are very privileged, in this moment we live in a bubble and we have a job which gives us enthusiasm, a job we love. I couldn’t even ask the most die-hard fan for help right now with the thousands of problems they face”
On the possible mistakes a manager can make arriving when the season has already begun:
“I need to tone down my exuberance, and start with the basic principles, just a few but very clear. Later we can go into the details, I can work with not just the possibility to improve the team as a whole but also the players individually. The mistake I could make is to transmit all of this adrenaline in the first few days, for the players it’s also a traumatic day as a lot of the players had a great relationship with Beppe, they admired and respected him, so it becomes very complicated”
Asked if the team is given enough ambition:
“Everyone talks about the top half of the league but that needs to be just a starting point. This team has great potential and I hope to be able to get that from them, that the players follow me with enthusiasm and determination. Of course right now we need to be realistic, we’re not selling smoke and mirrors, dreams need to be there but they also need to be allowed to develop.
When Pradè called me I was pleasantly surprised, but within three seconds we started to talk about football and when you have that agreement and the will to work together it makes things much easier”
On the possibilty of working with Gabriel Batitstuta:
“He would be an added value, he has the charisma and character. For our forwards to have the possibility to train with a great striker like him would be amazing. We can’t do it right now but it’s a discussion that we can re-open in the future”
What were Rocco Commisso’s first words to him:
“In his opinion it’s a good squad so it’s up to us now to get the best from them. I found him very positive and very capable in his analysis. He’s a president that’s far away at the moment but he’s also very present because there’s always the possibility to talk, he follows everything so we’re certainly not abandoned in any way”
“I’ve never met Ribéry since that evening, I’d like to hear if he remembers anything, about the way they robbed us. I’ll tell him he’s a rogue”
Also on Ribéry:
“He can win you the game but we can’t just focus on Ribéry, he’s an added value and an extraordinary champion.. We can’t think that every time we have the ball we need to look for him, that would mean we’re really very limited.
He was asked about what formation he expects to use and a defense of 3 or 4:
“We need to clear this up once and for all, when we talk about systems of play, we only ever talk about how the team is set up defensively, why? You also need to understand how you will develop the play, how many players will attack the penalty area, how many players manage to close down play and protect, after I’ve had training with the players I’ll be able to understand if they can quickly adapt to a solution In 90% of teams, when they fall behind they always take off a defender, so this change already demands that you’re prepared, the squad needs to be prepared for all systems”
Does he believe he can take this team to the heights he did in the past?
“The first thing is the mentality, before analyzing the positive aspects we need to have the mentality of a strong team, an important team. A lot of the players don’t even realize how good they actually are.
I want to do an important job, it will be the results and how we perform that will decide my future. My future is in one hour when I need to take the training session”
The final words were left to Daniele Pradè who wanted to clear up a few things. He said that the decision to confirm Beppe Iachini last season was a mutual decision, that everything is decided together, first by himself and Joe Barone, and then with Rocco Commisso who has the final say. He pointed out that it wasn’t true that he had proposed another manager, such as Roberto De Zerbi or Ivan Jurić, and that if he had he was certain that Rocco Commisso would have listened to him.
Finally he explained that this decision to replace Beppe Iachini was taken in order to bring back enthusiasm and energy. Let’s hope that’s the first thing Cesare Prandelli manages to do, because lately this team has certainly looked to be playing without either of those things.