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Fiorentina’s options for interim manager aren’t great

This, more than anything else, is probably why Iachini remains employed.

Parma FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
“I dunno, man. You sure this is a good idea?”
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Fiorentina seems to have moved on from “if we fire Giuseppe Iachini” to “when we fire Giuseppe Iachini,” largely on the basis of the continued negotiations with former Empoli, Napoli, Chelsea, and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri. If the cigarette-eating mister can figure out a way to terminate his Juve deal, which runs through the end of the year, it’s a slam dunk that Rocco Commisso and company will at least try to sign him, as early as this month if possible. With the team’s recent string of disappointing results, it’s clear that it’s time to move on from Beppe.

So why is Beppe still prowling the Viola touchline? It’s probably less to do with Rocco’s enjoyment for hearing him yell, “Gioca! Gioca!” two hundred times a game and more to do with the possible short-term replacements, who are pretty dang underwhelming as a group. Let’s run down the three names that have risen to the top as interim managers over the past few days.

Vincenzo Montella

Everyone in Florence will always remember Vinnie fondly after his first stint with the team. In terms of results and in terms of aesthetics, he’s the best manager the club has had in about a decade. While he never won any silverware (although his failure to lead his charges to the Coppa Italia final over in 2014 as riots led to 3 shootings in Rome and a lengthy delay feels like it was out of his hands), he led Fiorentina to 3 consecutive 4th-place finishes and some fun runs in the Europa League before leaving Florence over disagreements with the Della Valles’ spending.

And that, though, he’s never found anything really resembling success. Stints at AC Milan and Sevilla saw him sacked for terrible league form within his first 15 months. The general feeling was that his tactics had gone stale, and a return to Fiorentina confirmed that opinion: 5 wins in 26 matches is simply unacceptable, and Commisso was forced to sack him last year and replace him with Iachini.

While the squad is very different this year and contains the sort of veteran leadership that Montella seems to require, bringing him in would destroy the fans’ confidence in Commisso. Given that il Aeroplanino hasn’t experienced anything resembling professional success in years, it’s hard to see how he’d be an improvement on Iachini; Beppe has produced 1.55 points per match in his year or so in charge, while Montella had barely a third of that. Vinnie’s never seemed to connect much with his players and his tactics are shot. The only reason to appoint him is that he’s technically still under contract, but again, that would make Rocco look like Maurizio Zamparini. Nobody wants that.

Likelihood: 10%

Horror level: the clouds rain blood as the tentacles reach down, carrying the lucky ones to a swift death

Alberto Aquilani

The current Primavera boss reached his greatest heights as a player under Montella, so it seems fitting to discuss him next. While Aquaman would command respect from the squad for his brilliant career achievements—38 Italy caps, contracts with Champions League-level clubs, outrageous quality—he’s only coached all of 15 games, all of them at U18 or U19 level. He’s also younger than Franck Ribery, which could lead to some awkwardness.

I can see why some fans want Aquilani to take over for a few games. If he can set out a lineup, motivate the players, and then return to the Primavera after five games in charge without completely borking the season, it’d be a great move, especially since he’s already under contract. However, DS Daniele Pradè probably won’t want to gamble his job on such an inexperienced set of hands on the wheel, as he’s probably next on the chopping block after Iachini.

Too, if Aquilani fails with the senior side (which isn’t hard to imagine what with the malaise that surrounds the team right now), it’d be a serious blow to his credibility with the youngsters as well. And, as anyone who’s been following the Primavera can attest, he hasn’t set the world alight with that group either. After winning the Coppa Italia in his first game in charge (which you feel like was mostly off the back of Emiliano Bigica’s work), he’s lost 3 of his first 5 matches. It probably makes more sense to give him at least another year or two before he’s ready for a task of this magnitude.

Likelihood: 20%

Horror level: someone throwing up on the bus floor one seat behind you

Cesare Prandelli

San Cesare has spent more time as Fiorentina boss than anyone else in history and oversaw a golden age for the club, leading it into the Champions League for the last time and creating some outrageously charismatic, attacking sides. He’s out of work right now and recently said that, if the Viola called, he would take up any position with them without a second thought. What could go wrong?

Well, plenty. Since guiding Italy to the Euro 2012 (which would’ve looked very different had injuries not wiped out half his starting defense), his star has fallen considerably. He hadn’t lasted more than 16 games at a club until taking over Genoa in 2018 and guiding them to safety, albeit while earning less than a point per game. Much like Montella, you wonder if he’s failed to adapt to new ideas in coaching and has been rather passed by.

On the plus side, his connection to Florence, avuncular nature, and record of service (Rocco’s been pretty apparent in his desire to bring back club legends) are all points in his favor. He’d probably do fine as a stopgap measure, perhaps even through the end of the season if Sarri or Luciano Spalletti can’t be lured to Fiorentina, but he hasn’t shown the ability to take a team anywhere exciting over the past 8 years. We’ll never stop loving San Cesare, but it might be wiser for everyone to leave his legacy untouched.

Likelihood: 50%

Horror level: your favorite uncle’s had one too many at your cousin’s wedding and starts reaching for the microphone

There are plenty of other options for a temporary managers; Walter Mazzarri, for example, might be a decent choice. These three, however, seem to be the frontrunners at the moment. It’s also worth considering that, if Sarri and Spalletti don’t wind up at the helm this year, this short-term coach could end up being a bit less short-term than any of us are very comfortable with, which is a discussion for another day.