Whereas yesterday was a day full of farewells from Fiorentina, today marks a new arrival at the club. To be more precise, it will actually be a return, as a former player will now take over as manager. No, we’re not still talking about Beppe Iachini, today saw the official announcement that Patrizia Panico is the new manager of Fiorentina Femminile.
This will be Patrizia’s first role as manager of a club side as up to now she has been involved with the Italy national set-up. Panico has been in charge of the Under 15 boys team for Italy and her most recent role saw her join the Under 21 men’s staff as Assistant Manager.
Patrizia Panico is one of the most famous names in Italian football, and on the women’s side of the game, she is up there with Carolina Morace as a record goal-scorer. Once Morace retired in 1998, it was Patrizia who took over her place as the consistent Capocannoniere in Serie A, claiming that title on 14 occasions. She holds the record not only for the most appearances for the Italy national side but also for the most goals scored. Panico also won 10 Serie A titles and 5 Coppa Italia in her long career.
Born in Roma, Panico started her career in the capital with Lazio, and went on to play for the top Serie A sides at the time, including Verona, Torres, Torino and Modena. In 2015, at the age of 40, Patrizia Panico joined Fiorentina, in what was the club’s debut season in the women’s game. This would be the striker’s final season as a player, and she helped the club to a third place finish in Serie A with her 20 goals in 21 games. Which means that her final club as a player will now be her first club as a manager, five years later.
Panico will take over from Antonio Cincotta, who had a very successful five seasons at the club, both as assistant manager and manager. He helped bring the club it’s first Scudetto for the women’s team, along with victories in both the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa. The club has also participated in the Champions League consistently, but unfortunately that will not be the case next season, and so the new manager will have the difficult task of taking Fiorentina back to the top of Serie A. We may face Antonio in the near future, as he looks set to take the manager’s role at Sampdoria.
Since the arrival of Juventus in the women’s league, they have taken over as the top club, and Serie A has become ever more competitive with the likes of Milan, Sassuolo and Roma now challenging for the higher positions. The new season will also see the arrival of Lazio, with Carolina Morace as manager, along with Sampdoria who have controversially taken the place of Florentia San Gimignano. Pomigliano will also take part in the top flight for the first time ever after two consecutive promotions. The 2021/22 season will kick off on August 29th, and will see three clubs relegated as the following season will have just 10 clubs competing in what should be the first professional Serie A campaign.
Patrizia Panico will find a lot of changes at the club since her last time here, new owners and plenty of new faces. There may still be a few familiar ones too, with Greta Adami, Valery Vigilucci and Alice Tortelli all having played with the striker in that 2015/16 season.
Time To Say Goodbye
We now wait to see what new names will be brought in, as the squad has lost quite a few players from last season. Stéphanie Öhrström, our Swedish goalkeeper, has now left the club after five seasons in which she won the Scudetto, two Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa. Last season saw her make only six league appearances as Katja Schroffenegger took over as first choice keeper, but she was still an important figure in the squad. The 34 year old looks set to join Lazio for the forthcoming season. Lycka till Stéph!
After two seasons with Fiorentina, American defender Janelle Cordia is now heading back to Denmark to rejoin Fortuna. Janelle won two Danish league titles and two Danish Cups in her five seasons at the club, and made 18 appearances in the Champions League, where she also came up against Fiorentina. In her two seasons in Florence she made 27 league appearances and scored two goals. Best of luck Janelle!
The Scottish lion, Lana Clelland, is another player leaving Fiorentina.
In her three seasons in Florence, Lana made a total of 54 appearances, scoring 17 goals. Unfortunately in her time at the club, the striker was hit by serious injury problems, which saw her miss most of the 2019/20 season, and just as she made her return the season was cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lana, who had already played in Italy with Bari and Tavagnacco, is one of those players who settled into life in Florence, and became a Florentine herself. In her goodbye message yesterday Lana said that she arrived in Florence as Scottish but leaves as Florentine, without the C, and with a lot more H. Anyone who has heard the local accent will know what she was talking about there. We may get to see Lana in Serie A next season, as she is rumoured to be joining Sassuolo. Gur math a thèid leat Lana!
Our Dutch midfield maestro, Tessel Middag, is another player leaving the club. Even though Tessel was only with us for one season, she played her way into the hearts of the fans. Having been hit with two serious injuries during her time in England, Middag was convinced by Antonio Cincotta that Italy, and Fiorentina, was the best place for a fresh start.
Although Tessel struggled to break into the side at the start of the season after an injury in training, once she did settle in she began to show her quality. The goals also came, scoring in two successive games in January. Against Inter, with the teams level at 2-2, Tessel scored a late winner with a superb strike from outside the area. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tessel earlier this year, and she was so generous with her time that it became a two part interview. Veel succes Tessel!
Louise Quinn, the towering Irish defender is also moving on after just one season with Fiorentina. Since joining the club from Arsenal, Louise has been a rock and an ever present at the heart of our defense. She quickly learned what it means to take on the Serie A forwards after her sending off against Juventus, and also became a threat in attack herself. Especially from set-pieces, Fiorentina were able to take advantage of Louise’s height and heading ability as she went on to score in every competition for the club.
Her six goals in total included the winner in the Supercoppa semi-final against Milan, and the opening goal in the Champions League tie with Slavia Prague. I also spoke with Louise early in the season, as she told Viola Nation about settling in at Fiorentina and life in Italy, along with a look at her career to date and where you can find a good Guinness in Ireland. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat Louise!
My time at Fiorentina has come to an end. Thanks to the club for the opportunity but my experience wouldn't have been what is was without my teammates and friends that were made, and to live in Firenze, the most beautiful city I've set me eyes on! To the fans... pic.twitter.com/ECheESGaRs— Louise Quinn (@louise_quinn4) July 2, 2021
It hasn’t all been farewells, with both Daniela Sabatino and Stephanie Breitner extending their contracts. There may yet be more departures and there will definitely be new arrivals before the new season begins. For now, we welcome back Patrizia Panico to the club and wish her the best of luck in her new role.
For those leaving Fiorentina, Florence will always be a city that will welcome you back. It is a unique and special place, and once you let it in, it will never leave you. I’ve been there, saying arrivederci to Firenze, because it’s never goodbye, you will always feel that longing to return. Sincere best wishes for the next stage of your careers, and for the future and we will miss you all!