Sinisa Mihajlovic knows it. The Fiorentina fans know it. Alberto Gilardino and Co. by now should know it. La Viola need to be more predatory when it comes to sticking the ball in the back of the net. After a dismal 1-0 defeat to newly promoted Lecce on Sunday, Mihajlovic rapped: “Are we apathetic? It’s true to a certain point. The most difficult thing has been to convey my character to the team, it isn’t easy. Against Napoli we did well, today instead, there was no malice, especially in front of goal.”
With just one point recorded in their first two games, Fiorentina are not exactly looking like the Champions League hopefuls that many had predicted pre-season. They lacked the usual free-flowing, attack-minded edge that is meant to give them that advantage over their rivals. Where this was on Sunday is still unanswered. It is not time to push the panic button with just two games in but Mihajlovic definitely has some work to do on the training ground.
The tactics looked too flat and placid and Lecce unpicked them quite easily. Mihajlovic should have adopted an attacking approach from the off but instead La Viola fans were left wondering why talisman Alberto Gilardino was not even treated to scraps in terms of chances produced for him. Too often was the burly striker dropping deep to collect the ball and he was unable to conjure up anything of note. With tough fixtures against Lazio next weekend and fellow Champions League hopefuls Genoa the following week, Mihajlovic must act fast if Fiorentina are to improve. To pick up 4 points from these two games would steady the already rather rocky-looking ship Mihajlovic is sailing.
In a statement issued by Fiorentina legend Giancarlo Antognoni on Monday, the former midfielder feels Mihajlovic has set his marker a little too high for the time being: “He has just begun, but he seems to be an impulsive character to me. He took a team that had five optimal years with Prandelli, except for the last part, which, nonetheless, still made a lasting impression. I hope they can improve their position (10th place in 2009-10) as they have the advantage of not playing in Europe.”
This almost seems to beg the question: is Mihajlovic right to set high standards after Cesare Prandelli’s reign? Most Viola fans will probably answer in the affirmative because of their own expectations. However, the neutrals might want to stress the Coach’s need to find his rhythm. The former Bologna chief is beginning to paint himself a picture that sees a happy ending to the campaign but if that picture does not start to take shape soon, the fans will be pointing the paint brush at him themselves. So how should the team climb out of trouble? The blame cannot lay entirely with the Coach because, once the players cross the white line, it is down to them to perform. Maybe a change of tactics against Lazio is the answer. With what will be an expectant home crowd at the Stadio Artemi Franchi next weekend, it is imperative that they attack from the very first whistle. Ricardo Montolivio really needs to roll his sleeves up and be counted for, as do the rest of the midfield, who were non-existent in terms of providing chances for the strikers. Gilardino cannot afford to be left in no-man’s-land because he is one of Italy’s most natural finishers, yet he will not be able to finish his dinner if he is not provided with the right condiments.
Fiorentina almost looked too afraid against Lecce. We saw no bite, no passion, no charm and charisma when on the ball. This has to change next weekend because with such an expectant following, Mihajlovic’s impressive bow may lose a few strings, were some to call for his departure. Perhaps, it is somewhat ungenerous and churlish to suggest this and take such a dim view of a man only just appointed for the coaching job. That said, there is little doubt that football fans all over the world in this day and age have grown accustomed to the mind-boggling speed at which changes at the top may occur when things do not go as planned. Therefore, Mihajlovic needs to install some of his own grit and determination into the squad next weekend since another lifeless performance against the blue half of Rome will only see the media have a field day, with all major information channels trying to toss Mihajlovic’s name into the firing line.