Pour one out for everyone who’d put money on Gennaro Gattuso or Roberto De Zerbi taking the reins at Fiorentina next year. Gianluca di Marzio explained on Sky Sports today (via FiorentinaNews) that both managers have refused the Viola job after failing to receive assurances about the club’s transfer policy and direction.
Neither manager was a spotless choice for the job and both had some issues. Gattuso’s tactical nous has constantly been called in question, and he’s mostly worked with teams that already had excellent players. De Zerbi’s defenses are always perilous at best and his teams tend to fold in the second half of the season. Too, the former might well lead Napoli into the Champions League, which would make him tough to sack even for noted loony Aurelio de Laurentiis, while the latter has garnered attention from big clubs outside Italy.
According di Marzio, the Viola recruitment team of Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone were unable to convince the pair that their requests in the transfer market would be met. We’ve previously heard rumors that Gattuso in particular wanted promises that players older than 30 (Franck Ribery, Giacomo Bonaventura, Martín Cáceres, José Callejón, Borja Valero, Aleksandr Kokorin) would be shipped out and replaced by younger players, with Gattuso himself getting some sort of say in transfer matters. De Zerbi, presumably, voiced similar concerns.
There probably aren’t many supporters who are brokenhearted over missing on either of these managers. It’s more that the process behind their respective rejections reinforces the doubts that have festered since Pradè’s return: that he’s completely lost the thread, leaving anyone who signs on to coach the team at a massive disadvantage. The high-profile misses on guys like Pol Lirola, Patrick Cutrone, Alfred Duncan, and Pedro (all bought for big money and shipped out after failing to settle) and big money contracts for non-contributors like Callejón and Kokorin have eroded fans’ confidence in the sporting director.
Seeing Gattuso and De Zerbi slowly back away from the Fiorentina job will only undermine those last shreds of confidence. With an owner in Rocco Commisso who’s shown his willingness to spend and a team possessed of a tremendous amount of history, the Viola job should be very attractive to a hungry young manager. Instead, two of them have simultaneously run screaming for the hills instead.
As ever, it’s hard to know what exactly is going on behind the scenes. It could be that di Marzio (who’s as plugged into the goings on in Serie A as anyone can be) was fed a bad line by someone for reasons unknown. It could be that Gattuso and De Zerbi wanted too much money, or guarantees that the team would spend too exorbitantly even for Rocco (Financial Fair Play still exists), or myriad other reasons that these deals fall through.
It’s not just these single results that have everyone worried. It’s more that they fit into a larger tapestry that depicts Fiorentina as an organization in transition that’s having trouble attracting talent despite having everything in place for a quick turnaround. At a certain point, fans start worrying more about the process than anything else.