After yet another disastrous performance against Atalanta, where Fiorentina never looked capable of getting anything from this game, the saddest part is that it came as no surprise. Anyone who has seen Fiorentina play this season cannot have expected this team to go to Bergamo and gain any valuable points.
Last week against Genoa, one of the poorest teams in Serie A and now one of our main relegation rivals, there were those who saw our last gasp equalizer as some kind of turning point. Seriously? That was just yet another in a string of terrible displays from this team, in a game that we really needed to win, and we came within seconds of Genoa coming away with all three points.
If anyone really thought that this would give the squad some sort of morale boost, they were soon set straight very early in yesterday’s game. Yet again, our man of the match was our goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski, in a 3-0 defeat that should tell you everything you need to know about the game. Without his saves this season we would be in an even worse position right now.
At the moment, we are just four points ahead of Crotone, a team who only achieved their first win of the season this weekend. That is a stark statistic that should set those alarm bells ringing even louder. The teams behind us are not destined to stay there. Torino at least have a player like Andrea Belotti who will always score goals. Fiorentina do not have that kind of player, and yet according to our DS, Daniele Pradè, we didn’t need another attacking option. We had enough goal scorers in this team. I think we can safely say that he has yet again been proved wrong.
Cesare Prandelli insists on keeping faith with Dušan Vlahović, a player who in over 700 minutes of action this season, has scored one goal. The lack of a proven striker isn’t of course the source of all our problems, as getting decent service to our front line has also been a major issue all season. But Vlahović is not the man for this job, whenever he does receive the ball, more often than not he makes the wrong choices. He doesn’t seem to be able to even control the ball properly, and how many times have we seen him losing the ball, as happened with Atalanta’s opening goal yesterday, for a player of his size it seems very easy to knock him off the ball, and the frustration of seeing him go to ground so much just grows and grows with each passing game.
If Patrick Cutrone for whatever reason is not going to be even given a chance to prove himself, then it’s better, as has been rumoured, that he does move on in January. I would like to hear our DS actually come out and say that he got it wrong, that the club does need to invest in a proven striker. At this stage I think a lot of us are hoping that he won’t be the man in charge when the next transfer window opens, but as it’s just around the corner it doesn’t seem likely that Rocco Commisso will take that bold step.
This is the one area that the new club owners really need to work on, employing the right people. Whether that’s in the background, the DS role, or the manager, for now they have made mistakes. The first one was retaining Vincenzo Montella on the bench after his disastrous spell in charge just before Commisso took over. This was the time to shake things up, to lay down a marker, to show people that they mean business. Instead, a manager was rewarded for no reason at all other than the fact that he already had a contract with the club.
Bringing back Daniele Pradè has proven to be another error of judgement, and this obsession with returning to the past has not been healthy for the club. Those mistakes were already made by the previous owners, bringing back Montella in the first place and a player like Milan Badelj were pointless exercises. Now we have seen the same thing happen here, Borja Valero, with all the respect and love that the fans might have for him, was not the player that this squad needed. Cesare Prandelli’s use of him seems even more strange, if your team is winning and trying to hold on to a result, maybe there is some sense in having him there, but to throw him on when your team is chasing the game just has no logic.
The confirmation of Beppe Iachini on the bench was yet another mistake, he had done the job he was asked to do, keeping the team in Serie A, but if you want to build on that the following season, that was the time to bring in a manager to construct a future around. Instead the inevitable happened, and Commisso was eventually forced to let Iachini go and find a quick temporary fix, with yet another return to the past. Now we have the strong possibility of another man’s legacy at the club being tainted.
For now under Prandelli we have yet to see any improvement in this team’s performances. It’s hard to believe but they have actually managed to regress even further under the new manager. In Iachini’s last four games in charge the team managed to collect 5 points, in Prandelli’s first four games, they have gathered a grand total of 1 point. This is very clearly relegation form. There has been no reaction whatsoever to a new manager coming in. There has been no injection of energy or enthusiasm, if anything they look even more dejected and lost than before.
It seems clear by now that this is not just a managerial issue, there is something not right within this squad. There is no heart, no pride, no energy. While last season was far from a joy to watch, this season is so much worse. Is it down to a perceived lack of ambition at the club? Has the lack of a proper managerial appointment and a clear objective dampened the spirits of this team? Are there too many players whose contracts will soon be up and are biding their time before a move to a bigger club? Are the team suffering because of this uncertainty having seen Federico Chiesa leave on the last day of the most recent transfer window?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, and for now it seems nobody else does either, and that includes the latest manager Cesare Prandelli. I for one am tired of hearing about how the squad is under pressure, under pressure from where?? There are no fans at the stadium, there are no fans at the training ground, there are no fans awaiting them on their return from yet another poor performance.
Fiorentina fans might be seen as a very demanding fan base, but if a team like Roma, Lazio or Napoli for example were in this situation then there would be a lot more pressure on them. Another excuse that has been given has been the lack of fans, how they are missing the support of the crowd. Again this is an issue which is facing every team in Serie A, and in most other countries, so it really is a ridiculous excuse to use, especially when you look at last season and the team’s home record when the fans were present against when there were no fans present.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to explain what is happening to this team, as they go from bad to worse. Cesare Prandelli’s words do absolutely nothing to clear up the situation and just sound like very poor Giuseppe Iachini excuses.
Prandelli yesterday spoke of how the lack of public may be a reason for Franck Ribéry’s poor performances lately, so what about every other player in the football world right now? What about players with much less experience? This really has the mark of a manager clutching at straws.
Another reply from the post game questions to the manager yesterday was even more embarrassing. Prandelli claimed that he saw a much better performance from his team when they were 3-0 down. This was the only time he saw his players actually press high and trying to win back possession. Really? Against a team that had already won the game, a team that had played mid-week in a Champions League game, and a team at that stage preserving energy for their next game where they travel to face Juventus on Wednesday.
Fiorentina have finally decided to take the team ‘in ritiro’, which is starting today and with no definite end date given. This probably means that it will depend on the result and performance in Wednesday’s game against Sassuolo. If it doesn’t go any further than that game then it’s really only one extra day for the players. Up to now the club has decided against using this measure, and after the defeat to AC Milan a few weeks ago they were actually given an extra day off to recover, a move which did not go down well with the fans.
It’s getting very repetitive and very frustrating having to listen to our players after each dismal display come out with the same old tired phrases, how they need to work harder and accept the criticism. Up to now we haven’t seen any of these empty words put into action.
Today let’s hope that the players take notice of the latest banner that the fans have erected at the entrance to the Centro Sportivo, a message which can be seen as aimed at not only the squad, but the club as a whole - “Il nostro amore per la maglia è infinito, la pazienza no… Svegliatevi tutti!“ ‘Our love for the jersey is infinite, our patience is not... Wake up everyone!