And just like that, Fiorentina come back down to Earth, the fans even more so than the players and manager. A heavy defeat, a miserable performance by the whole team, and all of this after we had waited so long to see the Viola finally back in action.
How to explain such a disaster? Not even Vincenzo Italiano was able to offer a motive: “I can’t explain this performance to myself” he told the journalists after the game. He almost sounded like Vasco Rossi singing ‘Un Senso’, ‘voglio trovare un senso a questa sera, anche se questa sera un senso non ce l’ha’. (I want to find a meaning to this evening, even if this evening, doesn’t have any meaning)
“I’m sorry because I didn’t expect such a performance for the way we worked these days. I am very disappointed with our first half.” This was one of Italiano’s comments which left me a little perplexed, especially when paired with this one: “We had prepared the match against Udinese. Then we didn’t think about coming to Turin and we prepared it in a training session. But they are not alibis.”
It had already struck me as strange when last Friday’s training session was cancelled, after the game against Udinese didn’t go ahead on Thursday night. True, they did have a training match at the Franchi, but I don’t think that was a good enough reason to give the players a day off. It seems as if they had already decided that the game with Torino would not go ahead, something which at that stage did seem the most likely possibility. By Friday evening, there was already talk of the fixture being moved to Monday, and in the end, this is what happened. As Italiano said, these are not alibis, look at Torino and their lack of preparation and then how they performed right from the kick-off.
There is every probability that Fiorentina took this game a little for granted, given the situation Torino were in leading up to it. It’s the only explanation I can give myself, to see a whole team under performing in this manner. For each Torino goal, the defending was so sloppy, players barely attempting a tackle or an interception.
If we thought Lucas Martínez Quarta’s performance in the first half was bad, then what about his replacement, Igor. The whole defense was a disaster, from Nikola Milenković’s casual flick which gifted the ball to Mërgim Vojvoda to cross into the box for the opener, to Quarta’s half attempt at a tackle on the edge of the box for the second goal. Callejon made a rare assist for the third goal, and Igor decided not to even try and intercept the cross for the fourth.
It’s pointless, however, to single out players from last night’s game. We win as a team and we lose as a team, and this time, each and every player failed to perform as expected. Which is why, the thing that annoyed me after the match was the typical Fiorentina fan base reaction; let’s pick a player, and blame him for the result, pour out all our frustration on that guy. The scapegoat is needed, which in the past has been Biraghi and Amrabat, this time it looks like the new target is Gaetano Castrovilli.
Now, if you watched last night’s game, if you sat through that sorry display, then you cannot truthfully say that Castrovilli was the worst player on the pitch, he wasn’t even close. Then you check your Twitter feed afterwards, and it’s a stream of abuse and insults at a player who certainly tried harder than most last night to get something from this game. He took a lot of fouls, because he was actually on the ball, trying to create, people didn’t criticize Bonaventura, or Jack as he is more affectionately known to all, even though he was invisible last night. Some players just seem above any sort of criticism, either the fans like you or they don’t.
It’s easier explained in Italian, where they use the words, ‘simpatico’ and ‘antipatico’. If you google translate these words, ‘simpatico’ will be given simply as ‘nice’, while ‘antipatico’ is translated as ‘unfriendly’ or ‘unpleasant’. It often seems to be the case, that with the fans, either ‘li stai simpatico’ or ‘li stai antipatico’, they either like you or they don’t, and the reasons for that often have nothing to do with performances on the pitch.
Castrovilli has had his injury problems in recent times, and while a player like Callejón has started in 17 of our 22 games so far, Gaetano has been in the starting eleven just six times. Castrovilli was in the top twenty list of most fouled players in Serie A last season and was the third most fouled player in the Fiorentina squad, behind only Franck Ribéry and Dušan Vlahović.
Against Verona before Christmas, he scored the goal which saved a point from the game, but how soon some forget. Rather than support (which is, after all what supporters should do) and encourage, many prefer to criticize and attack a player. Rather than look at the bigger picture, it seems easier to point the finger, to focus on an individual. After a performance such as last nights, how can you attack one player, one who actually tried, when the whole team failed together?
I have said many times this season, that I’m happy to just be able to enjoy watching my team play football again. True, there wasn’t much to savour last night, but this is still a new manager, working with a lot of the same players who have been here the last few seasons when there was so little to be satisfied or optimistic about. Vincenzo Italiano has given this squad an identity, has given us reason to be hopeful, and this has brought him plenty of praise, and rightly so. One poor display however, and suddenly it’s all doom and gloom again. Anyone would think we were struggling to escape the relegation zone or playing the football we suffered through in recent seasons.
I’m not sure about the squad, but certainly the fans may have overestimated our ambitions and prospects for this season. There is too much focus on what other teams are doing, on the results of Roma and Juventus. The reality is, there are teams behind us in the table, such as Sassuolo, Lazio, and even Empoli and Torino, who are our real competitors this season. All this talk of qualification for Europe looked to me to be a little premature.
In this transfer window, the club has already brought in two players which were needed. For once, they managed to do this early, and we should soon have these new additions fully available to Italiano. This was always going to be a season in which there would be ups and downs, and I still believe that there will be many more positives than negatives. I also believe that last night will turn out to be the lowest point of the season.
It’s a result and performance, which will, hopefully, be useful to everyone, the players, the manager, the club, and us as fans. It can be a wake-up call, and this season is far from a lost cause. A quick glance at the league table shows that we are still in a healthy position. From now on, it’s probably best to concentrate on our games, and avoid making calculations regarding other teams’ results. It’s only natural to get carried away on a wave of enthusiasm, we’re football fans after all, but those highs will inevitably be followed by an even more dramatic fall.
The good thing is that we’re already back in action on Thursday evening. The Coppa Italia clash with Napoli is the perfect opportunity to bounce back from the defeat at Torino. I’ve seen so many people calling for the team to apologise, something that I think is completely pointless. Maybe some would like a return to the hangings from Palazzo Vecchio, or something like the burning of Savonarola in Piazza della Signoria. Would an Instagram post saying sorry really make anyone feel better? Surely, it’s on the pitch that we want to see the reaction of the players and manager.
For those still trying to make sense of this game, this performance, this result, maybe Vasco Rossi was right, maybe there is no sense, no meaning.
“Sai che cosa penso
Che se non ha un senso
Domani arriverà lo stesso
Senti che bel vento
Non basta mai il tempo
Domani è un altro giorno, arriverà
Domani è un altro giorno, ormai è qua”
(You know what I think
That if it doesn’t have a meaning
Tomorrow will come...
Tomorrow will come anyway
Feel what a beautiful wind
There is never enough time
Tomorrow is another day, it will come
Tomorrow is another day, it’s already here)