A second successive defeat, a fans protest and former manager Cesare Prandelli claiming the current squad is not fit enough. Welcome to what looks like being one of the toughest weeks in Sinisa Mihajlovic’s short managerial career. A lacklustre 2-1 reverse to the hands of Lazio on Saturday evening sent temperatures soaring at the Stadio Artemi Franchi. Around 100 Fiorentina Ultras stayed behind to vent their fury after letting a 1-0 lead slip and Viola have recorded just one point from nine in their first three games.
Riccardo Montolivio and the club directors came under fierce criticism from the protesters as the Ultras demanded answers from them. None were given and the concerns now turn to Mihajlovic and how he can mastermind a drastic turnaround and get Viola firing on all cylinders again.
Mihajlovic will have to stand up and be counted, as concerns were raised before the defeat to Lazio as to whether he would be replaced. Shareholder and former president Andrea Della Valle said: “The situation is tranquil and there are no doubts about Mihajlovic. The team is also tranquil. We will face Lazio without anxiety, even though it will be important to forget about the loss to Lecce. That was a poor game that we got wrong.” Valle may well be reassessing his words as it is evident that there is unrest within the Fiorentina camp.
As for the game itself Fiorentina started brightly and created their first chance after just three minutes. The lively Juan Manual Vargas whipped in a vicious looking cross that Adem Ljajic put just past the post. Alessio Cerci and Vargas again came close for the hosts but it was up to former Manchester United youngster Ljajic to produce the goods. He stepped up to score from the spot after Cerci was fouled by felled. The goal certainly bought a reaction from Aquile as they pressed for an equaliser and was rewarded when Christian Ledesma’s shot deflected in off Manual Pasqual from 18
As the second half got under way it became a more tactical affair with both teams trying to force each other into making errors but it was Lazio who struck gold. The impressive Stefano Mauri carved out a cross from the left hand side and when the initial shot was saved from Sebastian Frey, substitute Libor Kozak pounced to knock the ball into the back of the net.
Even with 23 minutes remaining the Viola failed to conjure up a chance of any note and it is patently obvious why the fans are becoming increasingly frustrated. There was none of the ‘grit’ and ‘steel’ that Mihajlovic had promised, Alberto Gilardino looked lethargic and out of sorts once again.
However, current Italy coach Prandelli said after the game: “Fiorentina at the moment? They began the season in the worst fashion because of injuries to Stevan Jovetic, Vargas, and Lorenzo De Silvestri. Plus there was Montolivo and Gilardino, who started late (due to their World Cup commitments). I think the current situation is only a question of physical conditioning.”
The Fiorentina Ultras are not going to accept such excuses. As the teams performance was so bereft of passion once again. Playing in front of nearly 50,000 fans should inspire the Viola to at least play with some pride and spirit. Prandelli’s point is valid, but will not excuse the fact that Mihajlovic has to revaluate his thinking with regards to his tactical approach.
On Wednesday evening Fiorentina travel to Genoa knowing that they must win, at all costs. Even a stagnant 1-0 victory will keep the guillotine away from Mihajlovic’s neck, for now at least.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Genoa will be relishing the chance to heap more misery on Mihajlovic when the two sides clash and it may be time for Mihajlovic to try new tactics. The bog standard 4-4-2 line up currently deployed is having no effect whatsoever when it comes to breaking teams down. Mihajlovic needs to use the pace and power of Vargas and Marchionni to exploit opposing full backs. Placing Montolivio in a more advanced position would wreak havoc in the final third. A 4-2-3-1 formation will cause problems for Genoa on Wednesday night something Fiorentina have not been able to do all season. It may be a risky ploy but Mihajlovic does not have much choice. La Viola need to win and they need to do it soon.