Fiorentina’s season plummeted to a new low on Sunday afternoon as they were rooted to the bottom of the table following a 2-1 loss at Sampdoria. Coach Sinisa Mijhalovic may have claimed that his players were in tears after the game but, how long will they be ‘his’ players is anyone’s guess.
For a team that has regularly competed for Champions League places in the past few seasons, la Viola’s fall to the depths of Serie A has been a strange one to say the least. Cesare Prandelli had built around him a team that was capable of beating the best in the championship and this was evident in Fiorentina’s performance in the Champions League last year. But as is often the case, European competition brought with it fatigue and exhaustion and their controversial exit at the hands of eventual finalists Bayern Munich failed to revive their domestic fortunes. The trouble between the owners and the Coach did not ease things at the Artemio Franchi and La Viola ended the season in the bottom half of the table for the first time since the Calciopoli ravaged season of 2005-06.
The resignation of Andre Della Valle, brother of club patron Diego Della Valle, was supposed to have tempered the problems between Prandelli and the club hierarchy. However, the tactician’s departure for La Nazionale left a bitter taste in the mouth. The fall out of that episode lingered for a while with Fiorentina maintaining they had not been informed by the FIGC of their approach for Prandelli. Sinisa Mijhalovic was hired to usher in a new era in Florence but the Montenegrin is yet to prove that he is the right man for the job. In fairness to the ex-Catania coach, the pre-season injury to Stevan Jovetić has surely hampered his plans for the team. Add to that the drug suspension placed on Adrian Mutu and one begins to understand the problems facing the team.
Adem Ljajić, the only player to have impressed so far this season, is undoubtedly talented but also very young and inexperienced. The Serb has already scored twice in five appearances but he lacks the support needed to truly excel in his role. Alberto Gilardino is currently reliving the nightmare he experienced during his Milan days. The Italian World Cup winner has been out of sorts this term and failed to perform when his side need him the most. A similar case could also be made for Juan Manuel Vargas, who seems to have got distracted with transfer rumours linking him with Europe’s top clubs and is currently performing well below the levels expected of him. But arguably, the worst offender to team morale has been Captain Riccardo Montolivo’s withdrawal from negotiations regarding a new contract. At a time when team solidarity was needed the most, Montolivo looks to be holding out to January to evaluate the offers he is likely to receive.
With Jovetić not due to return till April at the earliest, things are looking especially bleak for Mijhalovic’s troops. This weekend they will be playing host to Bari and will be desperate for a win that may kick-start their campaign or else the Coach may just be looking for a new job very soon.