Sinisa Mihajlovic woke up on Monday morning with his Fiorentina side bottom of Serie A. Seven games in and only five measly points recorded, the hapless Coach is walking an ever-thinner tightrope as patience in the boardroom continues to ebb away following yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Sampdoria.
I Blucerchiati came from behind late on to record a 2-1 victory with goals from Reto Ziegler and Antonio Cassano. Mihajlovic was left seething after seeing his side take a sixth minute lead through Marco Marchionni.
It all looked rosy early on as Fiorentina started extremely brightly and their efforts were rewarded when Peruvian winger Juan Manual Vargas found space on the left and sent a tantalising cross to the far post, where Marchionni emphatically headed home from close range. The visitors continued to dominate and Adem Ljajic, the only player to come away with any praise so far this season, was at the heart of everything La Viola did well.
However, after a lacklustre first 20 minutes, Sampdoria began to ease their way back into the game. Fernando Tissone and Ziegler went close with long-range efforts, before Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastian Frey was called upon to earn his crust, producing two magnificent saves to deny Giampaolo Pazzini and Cassano. As the half drew to a close, La Viola tried to slow the pace of the game down in a bid to hold onto their precious lead.
It was only temporary, however, as Sampdoria re-emerged with far more adventure in the second period and began to take the game to the visitors. Angelo Palombo started dictating play and the ever-inquisitive Pazzini never stopped pestering the Fiorentina backline. Indeed, Pazzini was unlucky not to win a penalty after being bought down by Cesare Natali.
Eventually the visitors crumbled, though it took something spectacular as Ziegler stepped up to smash home a wonderful 35-yard free-kick with 10 minutes remaining. The Stadio Luigi Ferraris erupted and from then on there looked like being only one winner. In fact, the turnaround was completed just a minute later as Cassano rivalled Ziegler’s stunning effort with a fantastic individual goal, weaving his way past two defenders before pulling the ball back and slotting it past Frey.
La Viola were inconsolable after their late defeat, which left Mihajlovic staring down the barrel of a gun. The Coach, however, attempted to remain upbeat:
“ The defeat burns but from tomorrow we start thinking of how to get out of this situation. I am serene and I trust this team and my work. I will make this work with passion and lots of grit,” he rallied.
But haven’t the Viola faithful heard all this before? Although it is well documented Fiorentina have had injury problems and suspensions to key players, the squad as a whole have yet to show any of this grit and determination Mihajlovic has promised. Regardless of how well they performed under Cesare Prandelli, teams are now coming to Florence and raising their game because they are easy prey.
Next Saturday sees Bari arrive at the Stadio Artemi Franchi and it is already assumed Mihajlovic has this fixture as one last lifeline. The former Yugoslav international needs to assemble his troops in the most attacking formation possible and breathe confidence into players such as Alberto Gilardino.
Reports have been rife former Brazilian Coach Dunga is lined up as a possible replacement this week. So how much grit and determination will Mihajlovic demonstrate to keep him off his back? This may be his final opportunity to put his words into action.