Vincenzo Montella will return to Fiorentina for the first time since he was sacked by last summer, when his new team Sampdoria travel to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday. Speaking to La Repubblica, the Coach has opened up about his acrimonious dismissal for the first time, and what follows is a translation of that interview.
"For the first time I have agreed to speak about Fiorentina, before the match at the Franchi, but please, I don't want to cause controversy, in Florence I was happy as a coach and as a man. I still have lots of friends there."
Lets go back to June 2015. How was the sacking communicated to you?
They sent me an email, then afterwards I telephoned [Andrea] Rogg.
Did you understand why you had been sacked?
Perhaps, yes. A few months before I had expressed my desire to leave Fiorentina. For me, the cycle was finished. They waited until all the teams had found a coach and then they sacked me.
Why had the cycle finished?
Because of everything we had done already, within the limits of financial fair play we couldn't do any more. In my opinion, we couldn't have done any more with the resources that we had.
There is also the story of the release clause. Do you regret signing it?
This agreement was made in two parts. There was a gentleman's agreement between myself and the club. It was something that we talked about at the beginning of the summer but they wouldn't give me the name of the manager who they had spoken to. For me, the words meant more than a signature, but they never respected those words.
It has been said in Florence that you accepted the offer from Sampdoria in order to free yourself from Fiorentina. What is the truth?
Nothing. If I'm really honest, the clause was written badly and if it involved a sacking it had no value. I was sacked.
Have you spoken to the Della Valle brothers since the sacking?
I have tried to call Andrea but it was always rejected. It is a shame because I would like to speak to him and the other club officials.
With all of them?
Yes, [Daniele] Prade and [Eduardo] Macia have helped me a lot during my career.
You left Florence with a great record. Of course when you said that the City had not understood the magnitude of the team's success they went crazy...
We had been knocked out by Sevilla and I had two choices: to defend myself or to defend the players, and as a consequence, the club. I chose to defend the players because together we had achieved five consecutive victories that brought Fiorentina to the Europa League semis. I am convinced that I did the right thing, the only thing that was wrong was the communication strategy of the club.
And the words of Borja Valero, when after Carpi he said that the team wouldn't have won some of the matches this season with you as Coach?
Borja is one of the few players that I haven't heard from since I left Florence. Each to their own. We spent a year learning how to train, to prevent injuries. I am happy to have read in an interview that he listened to my advice.
What do you think of Paulo Sousa?
He's a great coach. I know that they were looking at him for months. Fiorentina made a great choice.
They say that Fiorentina are stronger now...
I don't know, I don't want to make comparisons. This year they have Kalinic, who makes the difference, those who bought him did well. Then they bought Astori, who is a functional player, and Bernardeschi has definitely exploded. I really don't know.
Does it affect you that Mario Gomez is scoring goals in Turkey?
Mario is a great player and I'm not surprised at how well he is doing. It was during the last few years when he surprised me..
He will never be 100% but he is a champion even at 80%.
Let's talk about Babacar.
He has a great talent but at times he goes missing. I hope that on Sunday he doesn't remember how to start scoring.
Can Fiorentina fight for third place?
When you are out of the cup competitions it is easier. In Florence I learned that when you advance in the cup, your squad becomes tired because you are playing against higher level opponents.
What kind of match do you expect on Sunday at the Franchi?
A very aggressive one. Fiorentina are more advanced than us in the way that they play, but we will play to win.
In what spirit do you return to Florence?
With curiosity. It is a shame that I return in need of points.
And how do you think you will be received? Would you like to say something to the fans?
There is one thing I would like to say. It is difficult to find fans that are so passionate, even in difficult times.
How many errors did you make in Florence?
I always made errors, it's easy to look back on them in retrospect. I am happy with what I did in Florence and the objectives that we achieved there.