P13th (W9 D13 L16 GF47 GA59 Pts40)
Coppa Italia: Round of 16 Team rating: 4/10 Top scorer: Dusan Vlahovic (21) Europe: N/A
What was meant to be the start of a new era under Rocco Commisso proved to be a false dawn. Dusan Vlahovic aside, there were few positives for Fiorentina in 2020-21, says Giancarlo Rinaldi…
It wasn’t meant to be this way. With a new owner, new enthusiasm and maybe a new stadium on the horizon, this was supposed to be a new dawn for Florence’s finest. Instead, it turned out to be the same old Fiorentina. Looking back, the tone was set early with the transfer of Federico Chiesa. As a first test of whether or not the Viola could keep hold of their stars after a change of president, it showed that nothing had changed, for the time being anyway. In the process, they lost a huge slice of any creativity they had to cut open opposition defences.
It led to an often drab and lifeless campaign as they struggled to create many chances – regularly going for an eternity without so much as a shot on goal. With Franck Ribery flitting in and out of the team with injury or well-marked by the opposition, they seemed bereft of ideas about how to break through on goal. It did not make for pleasant viewing for those of a purple persuasion.
A change of coach from Beppe Iachini to Cesare Prandelli did not produce the results hoped for either and the Viola spent much of the season bubbling just above the relegation zone. Every so often, they sparked into life – most notably in the two matches with Juventus – but those were rare moments of delight. Otherwise, the skies were pretty grey over the River Arno for the majority of this campaign.
The bright spots – apart from the wins over the Bianconeri – were in the form of a few individuals. Goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski confirmed himself as a fine shot-stopper and regularly kept his team in matches while the explosion of Dusan Vlahovic – shown faith by Prandelli – helped keep the side out of Serie B. There was not much else to get excited about with signings like Jose Callejon, Kevin Malcuit and Aleksandr Kokorin, singularly failing to make any impact.
A press conference from Rocco Commisso towards the end of the campaign only added to the air of confusion around the Tuscan club. After an early honeymoon period, he has found it challenging to adjust to the vagaries of Italy and Italian football. His frustrations spilled out and that did not bode well for building a successful future.
That will be the key for the club going forward. With Beppe Iachini set to step down, they need to get the right coach in place quickly and give whoever it is the ammunition they require to play in their preferred style. Otherwise, there could be many more seasons like this to come for Fiorentina – which is not something the fans would be happy with. This is a club which should, at the very least, be on the fringes of European qualification but has failed to deliver for quite a while now. The patience of everyone involved is unlikely to last for much longer if the story of underachievement continues.
The coaches – Cesare Prandelli/Beppe Iachini
Beppe Iachini just about got the job done in his stop-start tenure but – like his own playing style – it wasn’t particularly pretty. There were flashes of football but, overall, the Viola limped along to survival under both him and Cesare Prandelli. The second Fiorentina spell of former Italy coach lasted from November until March, when he resigned “due to reasons that go beyond football.” Both him and Iachini will always have a place in the hearts of FIorentine fans, but not particularly due to this season in charge. Gennaro Gattuso has big shoes to fill.
Player of the Year – Dusan Vlahovic
If ever there was a no-contest award, it was probably Dusan Vlahovic being the club’s best performer of this season. He set all kinds of landmarks after he was finally given the keys to the team’s attack. Strong, skilful and with a dash of swagger, he is likely to be the Federico Chiesa of this summer’s transfer market. Fiorentina fans would hope it doesn’t end the same way.
Defining moment – Unbeaten against Juventus
In an entirely forgettable campaign, the two games with Juventus stick out in the memory as examples of what might have been. A win in Turin was epic and a draw at the Artemio Franchi in the Girone di Ritorno helped Fiorentina move closer to their minimum target. They summed up – in two matches – just how frustrating the underachievement of this group of players had been.
Did you know?
The 40 points collected this season represent the worst result since the Cecchi Gori era. La Viola managed 41 points in 2018-19, the last campaign under the Della Valle tenure, but finished the season 16th rather than 14th .