Fiorentina firing: how can Viola build on Vicenzo Montella’s legacy?
On the face of things Fiorentina had a successful recent season, securing fourth spot in Serie A to guarantee another campaign of continental football, and falling to eventual winners Sevilla and Juventus in the semi-finals of the Europa League and Coppa Italia respectively.
Coming so close to silverware is certainly nothing to be sniffed at for the Tuscan team, who have not won a major honour since the Coppa Italia trophy in 2001, but manager Vincenzo Montella still found himself facing the boot.
The Italian club cited the tactician’s “clear desire to break from a contract legitimately signed two years ago” as the reason for his sacking.
“So, with great regret we must take note of the fact that there is no longer the relationship of trust necessary for the continuation of any relationship,” added the Tuscan team in their official statement.
It seems all was not well behind the scenes at the Stadio Artemi Franchi, as Montella recently criticised Viola fans for jeering his players and, having been linked to vacancies at AC Milan and Napoli, appeared vague about his intentions for the future.
So, with the former Italy forward having cleared out his desk, how can Fiorentina pick themselves up and progress? The danger is that such instability will see the Serie A big-guns take a step backwards, with AC and Inter Milan both set to revive themselves over summer and increase competition for Europa, and Champions League, places.
First up a new boss should clearly be the priority, though Serie A is in a state of flux at the moment, and Viola may have to wait for Napoli to take first pickings of tacticians.
Empoli coach Maurizio Sarri looks set to be snapped off the shelf by the Little Donkeys, while the Rossoneri have nabbed Sinisa Mihajlovic from Samp, who in-turn replaced the Serbian with former goalkeeper Walter Zenga.
Key for Fiorentina will be not to rock the boat any further, so ex-Chelsea and Schalke coach Roberto Di Matteo could be a fantastic shout for a return to the nation he represented. Previously picked by the Blues to steady the ship as an interim manager, the Swiss-born Italian guided his side to a first ever Champions League trophy.
His silverware haul, including an FA Cup, and also the achievement of helping West Bromwich Albion gain promotion to the Premier League, are often overlooked, but his status as a former Italy international could prove attractive to potential recruits.
Failure to guide a Schalke side stuffed with prodigious young German talent to a Champions League place is somewhat of a blot on his copybook, but Di Matteo always strives for bold and attacking football, as shown by the Gelsenkirchen club running Real Madrid so memorably close in Europe this season.
Viola could certainly use a slice of that kind of bluster, and should another summer must, in the potential permanent signing of Chelsea-owned wingman Mohamed Salah come to fruition, Fiorentina could have an exciting side on their hands.
Watch Salah’s skills here:
Salah has been superb out wide, but Senegalese sharpshooter Khouma Babacar could use support in the striking positions, as ageing marksman Mario Gomez and injury-prone Giuseppe Rossi cannot be counted on.
Marseille goal poacher Andre-Pierre Gignac represents a bargain on a bosman, so should be attracting higher-level interest than the likes of West Brom (9/2 with Coral to be relegated from the Premier League in 2015/16), while crucial to maintaining a sturdy defence will be retaining sought-after Brazilian stopper Neto.
Fiorentina surely have the foundations to keep building towards something special, but the Viola hierarchy must make their decision on a new coach wisely, so that Montella’s hard work since 2012 is not wasted.