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Montella slams “physically and mentally” unfit Chiesa

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Attacking your players through the press usually means that you’re getting mighty close to the end of your tenure.

AC Milan v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Federico Chiesa was a surprise absence from the Fiorentina lineup on Sunday, spending the entire match sitting on the bench in a match which he probably could have won. Manager Vincenzo Montella initially cited a minor injury sustained in the previous day’s training, but changed his tune quite a bit in the aftermath of the direly unimpressive 0-1 loss at Hellas Verona, explaining that Chiesa “isn’t doing well, physically or mentally” in his post-match presser. While we don’t know what they discussed behind closed doors, it doesn’t seem like there was much conversation between the two on the subject.

This is absolutely terrible work from Cousin Vinnie. Criticizing your best player and the team’s most valuable asset is about as counterproductive as you can get. Fede’s been extremely professional for his entire career, never speaking out against his team or management in public (although his dad, ex-Viola striker Enrico Chiesa, hasn’t been afraid to poke at the brass); even if he’d been a vocal malcontent, though, the manager simply can’t attack him through the press. It’s juvenile, passive-aggressive, and a fine way to alienate the rest of the dressing room.

Fede’s been linked to a move out of Florence for the past couple of years, with Inter Milan and Juventus usually tabbed as the destination. After this most recent dust-up, the rumors have redoubled, with dozens of outlets running with the story, although it’s hard to know how much, say, 90min.com knows about the internal workings at Fiorentina; this is where the calcio internet echo chamber bounces things around the loudest.

While Montella’s received the dreaded vote of confidence from Joe Barone, this is the kind of statement that gets a manager sacked. Combining some pretty poor form—Fiorentina’s 16 points after 13 matches is the team’s fewest since 2011, when Delio Rossi was running things—with an inability to get along with the star player can’t result in anything but the axe. The Viola will probably have to push Montella out if they want any chance at hanging onto Chiesa, but the damage may already be done.