During his press conference yesterday evening, Fiorentina manager Stefano Pioli hinted at what’s starting to seem like the worst-kept secret in Serie A: he’s not going to be back next season. While he didn’t explicitly inform about his impending exit, you don’t have to do a lot of reading in between the lines to see what he’s saying.
“I let my work do the talking for me,” the 53-year-old coach said, adding, “I’ll keep going, but but I don’t know where it will be.” With a contract that runs out at the end of this season and no extension offered by club management, it sounds as if he knows that this is the end of the line for him in Florence; with his squad now 11 points back from 7th place (Andrea Della Valle’s goal at the start of the season), any hopes of qualifying for the Europa League that way seem to have evaporated, even though the Viola could qualify for the tournament by winning the Coppa Italia (they battled Atalanta to a 3-3 draw in the first leg of the quarterfinals).
After admitting that his team had obtained “too few points in the second half of the season, too few for the quality we have,” the mister added that he wasn’t disappointed by the performance of his players in the draw against Lazio, but that they did need to “recharge the batteries.”
He also told us something that we perhaps could have figured out from watching the team these past two years: “I don’t talk to my players about systems and shapes, it’s about positions, using your strengths and finding the weaknesses in the opposition.” That’s probably been his greatest shortcoming as a manager: the inability to teach his team to control a match. Rather, Pioli’s Fiorentina always seems to be flying by the seat of its pants, pushing the match into chaos and trying to win with individual brilliance. Perhaps a bit more of a system would give his players enough structure to connect some passes rather than hopefully flailing goalwards.
“We’re in no hurry to make decisions or announce them,” Pioli concluded. That may be the case for now, but barring a miracle—a convincing win in the Coppa Italia and an unprecedented sprint up the standings—the mister has just 11 matches left in his Viola career.