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Italiano, Ranieri, Fonseca and Garcia are your early front runners for next Fiorentina coach

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The Viola get to leap on the coaching carousel while it’s spinning at full tilt after Gattuso’s 22 day stint.

Spezia Calcio v UC Sampdoria - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Well, it’s over. Genarro Gattuso is leaving Fiorentina (likely for Tottenham Hotspur) and will join Sergio Santarini and Vincenzo Guerini as the only undefeated managers in club history. The Viola are scrambling to dig themselves out of the hole they scooped themselves into, which means Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone dive into manager recruitment for the second time this summer.

The early front runners seem to be Claudio Ranieri and Vincenzo Italiano, with Paulo Fonseca and Rudi Garcia as the dark horses. While none of the three are perfect candidates, they’re all decent options who’ve worked in Serie A and have demonstrated at least some level of competence at this level, particularly working with mid- to lower-table teams. Let’s meet our eligible bachlors.

Ranieri should need no introduction. The 69-year-old spent the past couple of seasons with Sampdoria, replacing the disastrous Eusebio di Francesco after 8 games and keeping the Blucerchiati respectably mid-table. Of course, that’s not really what he’s known for. Successful spells with Valencia, Chelsea, and AS Roma made him one of the most sought-after coaches in the world, but his masterpiece was winning the Premier League with Leicester City in 2015-2016, a singular feat that probably won’t ever be repeated.

As a tactician, you know what you’ll get from Ranieri: a 4-4-2 that’s sound at the back, tough in the middle, and quick on the break. He favors a counterattacking approach that could suit Fiorentina nicely, and he’s shown a willingness to press higher up the pitch that could get the best out of a confusing group of midfielders. He’s often been criticized for over-rotating his side and confusing his players, but he’d likely whip the Viola into shape. That said, he’s close to retirement and isn’t really a long-term, progressive solution.

Italiano sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. The 43-year-old led Spezia to their first-ever Serie A appearance this year and rather miraculously kept them up while producing occasionally brilliant calcio from a mismatched group of players. He’s a 4-3-3 man and likes his teams to keep the ball, tempting opponents forward and then looking to break quickly once they’ve over-committed. While the Aquilotti penchant for poor defending is a concern, they were solid at the back in Serie B, so it’s probably more a matter of talent than anything else.

The problem, of course, is that he’s only coached a single season in the top flight. Heck, his promotion-winning campaign with Spezia is his only experience in Serie B. The former Hellas Verona midfielder led Trapani out of Serie C the year before he signed with Spezia; before that, he was with semi-pro outfit Vigontina di San Paolo. Handing the reins to an interesting but very inexperienced manager feels like a risky move for Fiorentina right now, as the club really needs to get this decision right after missing on every managerial appointment so far.

Fonseca was in advanced talks with Spurs until today, but Daniel Levy’s dropped him to chase Gattuso. It’s tough on Fonseca, who wasn’t perfect in his stint as AS Roma but showed some interesting ideas; he was excellent at Shakhtar Donetsk before that, though, so he’s certainly an interesting name. His experience in Serie A means he could be a very safe option with the tactical intelligence to make this Viola side pretty interesting.

Garcia is a more volatile option as well. He led Roma to a pair of 2nd-place finishes but rather tailed off towards the end; more recently, he’s done well at Marseille (a Europa League final) and Lyon (eliminating Juventus and Manchester City in the Champions League), but hasn’t been able to crack the top four. He’s known for having a temper and clashing with management, though, which could make for a combustible relationship with the Viola brass.

This being Fiorentina, of course, these names will likely be tossed onto the scrapheap by the time this article is published, leaving it hopelessly out of date. The smart money at this point is probably on Leonardo Ceccherini, who mysteriously left Poggibonsi weeks before his contract was set to expire. Forza Leoni, forza Giallorossi, forza Poggibonsi per sempre.