Delio Rossi’s arrival as Fiorentina Coach in November was heralded as a fresh start for the Florence club, but did Sunday’s 3-0 win at Novara represent the start of a revival, or did it paper over the cracks of a club in turmoil?
As Delio Rossi strode across the Artemio Franchi pitch for his first game in charge against AC Milan, a banner could be clearly seen in the Curva Fiesole behind him. It simply read ‘Deli(ri)o Rossi’. Although only small, the text perfectly conveyed the fans feelings towards his appointment. Rossi was seen as everything previous Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was not; someone who displayed passion, was forward thinking and a leader. It was time for the Rimini born tactician to get to work.
Despite a very positive start, holding the champions 0-0, Fiorentina couldn’t shake off the inconsistency that dogged Mihajlovic’s tenure. Under Rossi’s tutelage, the six games prior to last Sunday’s Novara trip had seen more signs of despair than delight. A win over Roma was Rossi’s sole victory, with defeats against Palermo and Inter, coupled with desperate draws against Atalanta and Siena had raised question marks against the impact Rossi was having on a beleaguered squad. After la Viola had drawn their last game before the winter break 0-0 at Siena, Rossi didn’t seem to know his best side or his best formation. Although 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 were all used with little success, it was the latter which showed the most encouraging signs, as Rossi declared afterwards: ‘I’m encouraged with what I’ve seen, this (three man defence) is something we could build upon.’
The lead up to the Novara game was as far from ideal for Rossi as he prepared to rally his side after the winter break. Although it had been almost inevitable since the summer, the sale of star striker and idol to the fans Alberto Gilardino was met with howls of derision from supporters all over Firenze, with Ultras from the Curva Fiesole even paying a visit to the training ground to express their displeasure with the lack of investment in the squad. Rossi spoke of only focussing on the game, brushing aside talk of an impending crisis.
In what was a pivotal game in Fiorentina’s season, they were steady if not spectacular. Although it should be acknowledged tougher games than Novara stand in their way, the Tuscan’s will be pleased with the squads reaction to tension around the camp, netting three goals without reply. Playing 3-5-2, Stevan Jovetic stepped up to replace Gilardino’s goal threat with two of his own, while want-away midfielder Ricardo Montolivo scored a beautiful chip just before the break. Vargas and Cassani played the wing-back roles beautifully, switching between attack and defence as the situation necessitated. It was not dissimilar to the way Mazzarri’s Napoli play, although there is a lot of work to be done to match their success. Rossi was pleased after the game, but warned his side: ‘We have shown great continuity but we must not get carried away. If we settle for what we have, then there will be problems.’
Lecce are next up in the league for Fiorentina in a game of huge importance. A second straight win will certainly appease anxious supporters and buy Sporting Director Pantaleo Corvino some time to bring in new players. Defeat or even a draw however could open up the wounds healed by the Novara victory and bring the tension raised in previous weeks. Delio Rossi however, will be focusing purely on what happens on the pitch.