After five years at the helm of Fiorentina, Cesare Prandelli’s decision to take over the Italian national team was seen as an opportunity for the club to enter into a new dawn, and the man charged with the task of overseeing this project was a veteran of Serie A – a man with playing experience at Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter , and coaching experience at Bologna and Catania – Siniša Mihajlović.
Expectations at the Stadio Artemio Franchi were high, with the possibility of a Europa League or a Champions League finish a target for the Florence based outfit. Such anticipation though was ultimately short lived. It took la Viola until the final weekend of September to record their first victory under the stewardship of Mihajlović, a 2-0 defeat of Parma thanks to a penalty from Serbian Adem Ljajić and a strike from full-back Lorenzo De Silvestri. Only four more wins would accompany that Parma victory before the winter break, with Bari, Chievo, Cesena and Cagliari the victims.
What will have been of grave concern to Coach Mihajlović at Christmas was the identity of Fiorentina’s conquerors, the likes of Lazio, Palermo, Roma and Milan all taking three points from la Viola – all clubs that would be challenging for European football. Continental competition was the furthest thing from Fiorentina’s mind at the halfway stage though, with the club being touted as surprise relegation candidates.
The turn of the year would see fortune begin to favour Mihajlović and his side as victories over Brescia, Genoa and Palermo along with a scoreless draw away at Scudetto chasing Napoli went a long way to easing any demotion talk.
With their status as a Serie A club all but assured by mid-February, Fiorentina’s lack of consistency would continue to hamper any chance of a significant move up the league table. The Gigliati were only able to win back-to-back fixtures on just two occasions while they were unable to put together a three game winning streak at any stage during the campaign.
With the season drawing to a close, a top half finish appeared on the horizon, although throughout March and April Fiorentina would only take maximum points on three occasions – against Catania, Chievo and Cagliari. That Cagliari win was only their second double of the season, having also beaten Chievo twice.
May would also prove to be a less than inspiring month, with the only shining light being a 5-2 thrashing of Champions League bound Udinese. Runners-up Inter saw off the Fiorentina challenge comfortably, while Bologna and already relegated Brescia claimed a draw from their encounters with the Violets.
So, for a season that got underway with such high hopes, it proved be a fruitless few months for Fiorentina. A return of just 49 goals from 38 fixtures tells its own story. And what’s worse, stars such as Riccardo Montolivo and Juan Vargas are now being heavily linked with a summer transfer.
Coach – Sinisa Mihajlović:
Few Coach’s will have suffered as much speculation regarding their job this season as Mihajlović. The former Inter star defied the odds however, managing to keep hold of his job to guide la Viola to a ninth place finish. But a poor start next season could prove to be the end of his reign.
Player of the season – Alberto Gilardino:
Gilardino’s 12 goal contribution was a major reason for Fiorentina’s top half finish this season. The 28-year-old, who also weighed in with three assists, has recently been linked with a move to Marseille. His departure would leave a gaping hole in the club’s frontline.
Turning Point – The Adrian Mutu Saga:
Is he leaving? Is he staying? Those were the two questions that dominated the first half of Fiorentina’s season. The club’s decision to reinstate the disruptive Romanian in February hardly inspired an upturn in fortunes, with many of his teammates appearing to lose faith in the former Juventus striker.
Average Starting XI:
De Silvestri – Gamberini – Kroldrup – Pasqual
Montolivo – Donadel – Vargas
Gilardino – Mutu