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Luciano Spalletti could offer Fiorentina what it’s lacking most: an identity

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The veteran mister somehow hasn’t ever managed the Viola, but he’d be a great option to get this club back on its feet.

FC Internazionale v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Fiorentina are clearly struggling under current manager Giuseppe Iachini, just as they struggled under Vincenzo Montella the previous year, Stefano Pioli the year before that, and Paulo Sousa the year before that. With Beppe seeming less and less likely to be the long-term solution in the technical area, we’re looking at some of the top candidates to replace him. Having considered the case for Daniele de Rossi as Viola boss yesterday, it’s time to move to a candidate on the opposite end of the experience spectrum: Luciano Spalletti.

The 61-year-old Spalletti has been without a club since getting sacked by Inter Milan back in May 2019 so they could bring in Antonio Conte and win everything (whoops). Since he’s still under contract with the Nerazzurri, hiring him would require buying out the remaining few months; Spalletti has shown no interest in ditching that revenue stream, so he’d likely have to wait until the summer to officially take the reins at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. In fairness, the reported €400,000 a month is a decent wage for doing nothing.

He might well be worth the wait, though. A native Tuscan (45 km southwest of Florence), he’s already won a trophy in the region (Serie C with Empoli in 1996). He’s got plenty of other silverware as well, including 2 Coppe Italia, and a Supercoppa, as well as a couple of championships and cups from Russia. He also won the Panchina d’Oro, or coach of the year award, in 2006. And

He’s also got experience in taking unfancied, defensive sides to unexpected heights, most notably dragging a mediocre Udinese to 4th in 2004 before taking over at AS Roma, the club he’s usually associated with in Italy. He created an unprecedented, free-flowing attacking system that was arguably the first to feature a false 9 in Francesco Totti and took the Giallorossi back to the Champions League (albeit with an assist from Calciopoli).

He left the club after 4 years and moved to Zenit St. Petersburg, a union which initially paid dividends but ended with 3 trophy-less seasons, before returning to Rome and leading his old side to an improbable second place after Rudi Garcia got the sack, but walked away after arguments with Totti and the press derailed his plans. His time at Inter was uneven but generally successful as well, although the Scudetto continued to elude him.

As a tactician, he’s generally favored a 4-2-3-1, although he’s also used a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 at times. He likes his teams to keep the ball and cycle it quickly from side to side through the midfield, keeping it until someone finds space between the lines. He’s generally placed a major emphasis on quick, technical wingers and likes fullbacks who can get forward. That said, Spalletti’s greatest attribute as a coach is probably his adaptability, which allows him to get the most out of players you wouldn’t think would fit his system.

It’s also worth pointing out that he’s a rather prickly character at times, unafraid to challenge his star players, club ownership, or the media over the slightest affront. While that outspokenness adds to his avuncular charm, it’s also seen him turfed out of a few jobs; with Rocco Commisso’s project teetering towards unpopularity with the fans, finding a manager with a bit more of a bedside manner could be useful, especially as Spalletti’s tactics generally take a bit of time to implement and would require a complete reversal of Fioretina’s current style.

If the Viola fire Beppe Iachini soon, they’d have to pay Inter to get Spalletti on the bench. Despite his reputation for coaching neurotic sides that collapse at crucial moments (his lack of a Scudetto is based around this habit), Spalletti, even at 61, has a razor-sharp tactical mind and can lead a team to success on relatively limited resources. After a summertime flirtation that came to nothing, the rumors abound that Commisso and company have settled on him as the one to lead them out of the doldrums and into a new era.