Few are as qualified to talk about the fortunes of Fiorentina and Siena ahead of Sunday’s Tuscan derby as Enrico Chiesa. The prolific striker was endeared to both fans for his brilliance at scoring every type of goal, to Fiorentina for netting 22 times the season after Batistuta left, and to Siena for leading the team to survival in its first years in Serie A.
The man Fabio Capello described as a cross between Gigi Riva and Paolo Rossi, who scored Parma’s 3rd in the UEFA Cup triumph in 1999 is now a Coach himself, and from his recent comments to fiorentina.it, a pragmatic one.
Fiorentina resemble the beggar in the ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ quip, after selling Alberto Gilardino and sending Santiago Silva back to Argentina with the pair combining for a paltry 3 goals this season. In need of change, Brazilian born Italian striker Amauri has come in, and Chiesa felt Delio Rossi had bought well, saying, “Amauri will be an important building block, if the team and fans can give him support he can be one of the players to improve the team. It’s never easy to buy well in January, especially with attackers. I think Amauri is suitable for the way Rossi wants to play, and is without doubt the best of those available.”
Support is something he’s lived without since refusing a transfer last summer as Juventus tried to curb its wage bill, the 31 year-old was earning €70,000 a week but hasn’t played for the Bianconeri since the Coppa Italia defeat to Roma in January 2011. He was forced to train alone and widely stigmatized for his choice forcing one waggish supporter to place the striker on Ebay last week.That indignity is perhaps an avenue football can pursue in the future, but expectations remain cautiously optimistic after a loan spell at Parma yielded 7 goals in 11 appearances. Amauri’s ‘building block’ status is apt as Rossi wants a scaffold to further graft the talents of Stevan Jovetic who already has 9 goals. At 1.88m and some 80kg, the theory sees Amauri absorbing defenders and holding up the ball plus rediscovering the double digit form of Chievo, Palermo and his first season at Juventus.
However, Chiesa’s comments will sound to some fans more like ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’, with Fiorentina scoring in just 3 of 9 games since Rossi took over from Sinisa Mihajlovic. The former Lazio boss has toyed with four different formations to cajole some life into the team, but Chiesa saw a greater effort by the team as key to formation working: “It’s a difficult time of transition with a change of coach and needs lots of patience. Rossi’s change to 3-5-2 was an attempt to find more space on the pitch but the players need to make sacrifices to see an improvement. Fiorentina should not look at a league position, but work day by day and then be ready for the weekend’s match.”
Change under Rossi inevitably needs time and his side are only 1 point worse off from the halfway point last year, but that’s small consolation to supporters after watching a 1-0 defeat at home to lowly Lecce followed by a 0-0 draw at Cagliari.
One comfort ahead of Sunday is Siena have never won at the purple version of the Stadio Artemio Franchi since the first meeting in 1938, recording 2 draws and six defeats with an aggregate score of 17-2 in Fiorentina’s favour. Chiesa played in that first draw in 2004 after moving to la Robur from Lazio, and is remembered fondly at the club he captained, for keeping them in Serie A with 32 crucial goals in 3 seasons, a responsibility that now lies with Emanuele Calaio and Mattia Destro.
Destro was the super sub midweek netting in 120 seconds in the 1-0 Coppa Italia win over Chievo that set up a first ever semi-final appearance. Qualification for Europe is even a possibility if Coach Giuseppe Sannino can beat Napoli over two legs, the side they drew 1-1 with last week. Sannino made 11 changes for the Coppa quarter-final to keep players fresh for a game that means more to the smaller club, as Chiesa recalled, “I have many memories [of the derby]. I won and lost. It’s always been an intense game, especially in Siena where it’s deeply felt and it can be a fiery encounter…Since the beginning of the season Siena is a team that’s always looked to make it difficult for the opposition, that never gives up and always tries to embarrass the opposition.”
Siena go into the game expected to struggle while a first ever defeat at the Artemio Franchi would not only embarrass but further undermine Delio Rossi’s efforts to rebuild a club that hasn’t won a trophy since Chiesa scored five on the way to its sixth and final Coppa Italia crown.