Fiorentina and the Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio (FIGC) have confirmed that coach Cesare Prandelli is the main target to replace Marcello Lippi as Italy World Cup Squad boss. Now the big decision lies with the coach himself.
Although speculation to this nature has been rife for some time, the Tuscan club confirmed last week that the FIGC made official contact with them, and have since spoken to Prandelli to offer him the post. The Federcalcio chief, Giancarlo Abete hopes to secure a decision regarding Lippi’s successor prior to the team setting out for South Africa. Fiorentina agreed to let these talks take place and will leave the final decision to the coach.
It firmly looks now as if the ball is in Prandelli’s court and the 52-year-old is appears increasingly likely to replace Lippi. Sandwiched between two spells with Lippi in charge was the Roberto Donadoni reign which ended in disappointment following the 2008 European Championships, and the FIGC are keen to begin a longer era under the same coach, and it appears that Prandelli is their man. Fiorentina’s moral stance with Prandelli and willingness to recognise the lure of the Nazionale is to be admired. The club have merely asked for a swift decision for the sake of the team, the Fiorentina tifosi and to allow them sufficient time to locate a replacement.
Prandelli’s record at Fiorentina is an impressive one. Firstly, he is the longest serving of the current head coaches in Serie A, a crown taken since the departure of Carlo Ancellotti to Chelsea last summer. Having spent a short time at Roma, and a year out of football due to his wife’s ill-health and subsequent passing, he took over team affairs at Fiorentina from Dino Zoff during the summer of 2005. He hit the ground running and transformed a team that were struggling with relegation to one that would finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League.
They were however later stripped of this honour due to the Calciopoli scandal, although unlike Juventus, they started the following season in the top flight. Even with the subsequent 15-point deduction as a result of the match-fixing exposé, Fiorentina finished in sixth spot, level on points with Palermo in fifth, qualifying for the UEFA Cup to which they reached the semi-final stage, and were beaten only in a penalty shoot-out.
In the 2008/09 season he again guided the Tuscans into the top four and into the Champions League, where they went to qualify for the knock-out stages, leaving five-time European Cup winners Liverpool in their wake. This was to be the high-point of the season however as a struggle for European qualification saw the Viola finish in a mere eleventh place. In this period he collected several individual honours, namely the Panchina d’Oro in 2005/06 and 2006/07 and the Migliore Allenatore in 2008.
Having done such a wonderful job at Fiorentina, an eleventh-placed finish was not what Prandelli would have wished for, making to offer of leading the Azzurri an even more tempting one. The Nazionale are on the lookout.