The Gods were certainly favouring Siniša Mihajlović on Saturday evening as the former Inter hard man celebrated his second win in charge of Fiorentina. In a game which was largely rumoured to be his last, Mihajlović defied his critics to earn himself a precious win and will almost certainly lift a psychological weight off his shoulders. La Viola recorded a 2-1 win over Bari at a pressure filled Stadio Artemio Franchi to lift themselves off the foot of the table. Goals from Marco Donadel and Alberto Gilardino gave the crestfallen club a 2-0 lead before an injury time consolation from Alessandro Parisi.
The first 20 minutes of the game provided very little in terms of chances, despite the hosts looking the more likely to make something happen. The ever impressive Adem Ljajić provided the first real chance of note when he played the ball into Marco Marchionni’s path. Jean-François Gillet managed to scramble the defenders low shot away. As the alarm bells began ringing for Bari, Marco Donadel bought the Viola faithful to their feet with a rasping 20 yard shot which bounced in off the post. The smirk look on Mihajlović’s face suggested his team smelt blood as the hosts went in for the kill.
Serbian youngster Ljajic had the ball in the back of the net at the start of the second-half but his effort was correctly disallowed for offside. The tide was definitely flowing with the hosts as they pressed on for that all important second goal. Bari demonstrated a more physical approach to try and stem the pressure that Fiorentina were applying. Tempers almost boiled over in the 65th minute when Bari refused to kick the ball out of play when captain Riccardo Montolivo went down injured. Alessandro Gamberini had some choice words with the Bari players at their unsporting behavior. Striker Gilardino then gave the hosts that much needed second goal to set la Viola on course for that much desired win. Ljajić weaved his way past Andrea Masiello and despite his effort being saved by Gillet, Gilardino was presented with the simplest of chances as he tapped into an empty net.
After the match Gilardino was encouraged with his sides efforts: “It was fundamental to win, it was very important for us to get a victory. We prepared this game well, but we need to be patient.” Despite the win, the fans will not remain patient for much longer. The victory has certainly given Mihajlović some breathing space but it is now a case of whether they can string a consistent run of results together. His critics will be silenced for now but the Coach is not out of the dog house just yet.
The forgotten man of Florence, Adrian Mutu, is another in trouble after being accused of punching a waiter whilst on a night out. Instead of condemning the Romanian international, Mihajlović has given Mutu his full backing, a move which may have surprised some, although the Coach believes Mutu could have used a more disciplined approach to stem the confrontation. “I don’t want to interfere with club decisions, I saw him on Sunday and we spoke. He apologised to everyone.” However, things are looking brighter for the Serbian tactician and his squad but they are by no means out of the woods just yet. The former Yugoslavian international needs to branch out from this win and concentrate on kick starting Fiorentina’s season. With a little bit of luck and the return of Juan Manual Vargas for next week’s fixture, expect Mihajlović’s critics to be silenced once again.