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Pioli discusses strategy at inaugural presser

Sounds like the new mister will depart from some of the Sousa ideals we’ve grown accustomed to these past two years.

ACF Fiorentina v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Sweater vest?
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

At his first press conference as the manager of Fiorentina, Stefano Pioli fielded some questions about his vision for his new club. Some of them were about transfer decisions, over which Pioli probably won’t have all that much control. Some were softballs about his feelings upon returning to Florence. But some actually provided some insight into the new boss’ plans for the Viola next season.

To start with, he openly acknowledged that 4-2-3-1 is the shape he’ll probably start out with, given the personnel at his disposal and his own coaching philosophy. Perhaps most interesting is that he singled out Riccardo Saponara as a “trequartista who moves well” and as having “potential that he hasn’t yet enjoyed.”

He also singled out Borja Valero for special praise, highlighting the Spanish maestro’s intelligence (duh) and versatility. Based on this (obviously very flimsy) evidence, it sounds like Pioli’s looking into a 4-2-3-1 with Borja in the double pivot and Saponara as the number 10. While this may seem to pull Valero farther back than he likes, it could be a masterstroke as well: our Borja isn’t getting younger, and a brief that lets him sit deeper and ping balls into the feet of the Cheese, Federico Bernardeschi, and Federico Chiesa rather than motoring forward himself could prolong his career a bit.

On the subject of Berna, by the way, Pioli remarked, “I don’t have to convince him of anything.” The Viola pessimist—which I assume is all of us because I’ve read the comment sections on this website—will take that to mean that Berna’s future is already decided. On the other hand, it could be that a new manager who’s promised to build around his star attacker has convinced the Italy international to stick around for a while longer.

Of course, the mister also hedged his bets a bit by explaining that these were all just his first impressions and that they’re subject to change after he sees his players in training. He also vaguely mentioned that, while 4-2-3-1 was the system he expected to to best fit the circumstance, that he’s open to something else--probably a 4-3-3, which he’s used at previous stops.

After an autograph session and a bunch of photos with the tifosi, he was led away by Corvino and co., hopefully to get cracking on a plan to get back into Europe and maybe, just maybe, push for the top three.