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Rocco, to everything there is a season

After defeat to Venezia, Vlahović was the target of fans’ anger. Is Rocco Commisso to blame?

Venezia FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

A Time to Gain, A Time to Lose

Last night’s loss away to Venezia has dramatically changed the mood around Fiorentina. Nobody is expecting us to win every game, but it was the performance more than anything else, which left fans deflated.

Against a team which many expect to struggle against relegation in their first season back in Serie A, the expectations were always going to be high. We can look at the mistakes made by Vincenzo Italiano, and his obsession with José Callejón. The Spaniard has started seven of our eight league games so far and entered as a substitute in the other. This needs to be explained, especially when you leave a player like Nicolás González on the bench.

A Time for Love, A Time for Hate

What I want to look at, however, is what happened after the game, and how those scenes were almost inevitable. After the final whistle, the team went to applaud the fans who had travelled all the way from Florence to Venice on a Monday night. From the video that went online shortly afterwards, it’s clear that not all the fans appreciated the gesture. We don’t see Dušan Vlahović in the video, but he was the target of anger from a section of the Fiorentina support.

Captain Cristiano Biraghi, along with Lorenzo Venuti, first tried to reason with the fans, and then led the players away. There was also applause from the fans, and the players, but these scenes cannot be helpful, certainly not for Vlahović, but also for the rest of the squad.

A Time of War, A Time of Peace

The question needs to be asked, of Rocco Commisso, is this what he wanted when deciding to go public on the situation with the player’s contract? There seemed to be many at the time who applauded the Fiorentina owner’s openness and straight talking. I wasn’t one of those, I failed to see how any of it was beneficial to Fiorentina.

In the end, that should always be the aim, to do what is right for Fiorentina, but unfortunately, we have an owner who, more often than not, tends to do what he sees as beneficial to himself. What other logic can there be to his actions, to throw your striker (your only striker) under the bus and turn the fans against him.

A Time to Plant, A Time to Reap

Now, if Rocco, along with Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè, had done their job in the summer, maybe he could allow himself to make his declaration. Instead, they didn’t get the player’s signature on the contract, while also refusing to listen to any offers for the striker, and even worse, they don’t bring in any alternative, any possible substitute for Vlahović.

The whole Aleksandr Kokorin situation has now become a joke, and not a very good one. Last night the Russian wasn’t even available to Italiano, out through injury having played less than half an hour in the previous seven games. Kokorin, we were led to believe by the genius that is Pradè, was supposed to be the player we needed, he will be the present and the future of the club, he announced in February. Now there’s a frightening prospect. He also told us that we didn’t have players with the characteristics of Kokorin in the squad, what exactly are those characteristics, Daniele?

Fiorentina is now in a situation where it finds itself with no alternative solution to Vlahović, so for those who want him sitting in the stands until January, I’d love to hear their answer as to who plays in his place. It also means that if the Serbian striker is not playing well, or needs a rest, or even worse suffers an injury, Italiano has no options on his bench.

Venezia FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

How Commisso and his staff thought that this would be a good way to go into a new season is difficult to comprehend. All of which makes Rocco’s outburst even more out of place. There was a very real risk of creating a bad atmosphere within the squad, and the even more probable risk of turning the fans against one of our players. That risk, as we have seen last night, has now become a reality.

A Time to Build Up, A Time to Break Down

So where was the sense to it Rocco? Was it, as has been the owner’s habit, a way of making sure he doesn’t get the blame, of getting the fans on his side? It certainly seems that way, when he could have easily continued to work behind the scenes, or at least kept quiet until January. Then you have the option to sell the player and bring in replacements. Instead, his words have only caused controversy. We now have the situation where the fans have finally returned to the stadium. This was something, we were constantly told last season, that the squad were missing. Instead of it being a positive, it now risks becoming a very negative influence on the team, and certainly on Vlahović in particular.

Not only were there insults hurled at the player last night, the typical ‘gobbi di merda’, but a flagpole also flew through the air, which almost hit González. It has been said that this was an accident, it slipped from somebody’s grasp, but it certainly doesn’t create a great image.

A Time You May Embrace, A Time to Refrain from Embracing

It will be interesting to see what happens the next time Vlahović scores, where will he run to celebrate. It’s hard to see him racing towards the Curva to be celebrated by the fans. Rocco was at pains to stress how much money he had offered the player to sign a new contract, and a lot of people seem to believe that it’s all about a selfish player wanting more money. Maybe, as has been the case in previous similar situations, it’s about a player thinking of his future, and wanting to go to a club with more ambition than to finish in the top half of the table. Maybe, it’s about a player wanting to win trophies, to play in Europe, and to give his international career better prospects.

A Time to Dance, A Time to Mourn

While most of you may continue to believe that Rocco did the right thing, that he believes in being open with the fans, I continue to ask what benefit there was for the club. As in previous situations, blaming the media, pointing fingers at other clubs and their owners, it all seems a distraction from the real issues.

This defeat doesn’t need to be turned into a drama, a disaster. Up until yesterday we all applauded the way Italiano has this team playing, and that shouldn’t change because of one performance. For me the bigger drama is what happened after the game. It’s not about whether those fans were right or wrong, it’s about why that situation came about in the first place. There are always consequences to what we say, and here we have the result of Rocco’s public statements.

A Time for Peace, I swear it’s not too late

Maybe it’s time for Rocco to concentrate on what is happening at Fiorentina. Time to consider what is of benefit to this club and its fans. Time to think before blowing off steam. Time to look at where the real blame lies, time to start asking the hard questions of his own staff, time to act. Time to start answering some real questions from the media, and enough of the soundbites.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Hopefully, having seen the results of his words last night, a rethink may be on the cards. For the sake of Fiorentina, we can only hope that the time for change arrives sooner, rather than later.

As for us as fans, let’s try to concentrate on what’s best for our club, our team. Let’s not fall into the trap of blaming everything that goes wrong on one person, let’s not make a scapegoat out of one player.