Position: 7 (Conference League)
Comparison with previous season: +22 (13th)
After too many years in the doldrums, it finally felt like a campaign of the quality Fiorentina fans reckon they deserve. The Tuscans finally snatched a European place and regularly beat some of Italy’s top teams while playing attractive football. It was a long way from the fierce relegation fights of recent times. There were setbacks and stumbles along the way, but the overall trajectory of the club finally appeared to be upwards. After so many joyless matches where they could barely muster any attacking threat, the famous purple shirts were at last back as a team worthy of some Serie A respect.
The key moment in the season of the Tuscan side probably happened before a ball had even been kicked. The unveiling of Gennaro Gattuso as coach looked increasingly uncomfortable in the presentation pictures and they proved to be telling a tale of genuine disquiet. A last gasp switch to Vincenzo Italiano turned out to be inspirational as he quickly imposed a new approach on his troops. If it had not been for that summertime storm, who knows how things might have turned out? It certainly helped turn the club from one without a clear identity and direction into one which suddenly appeared to have a better idea of where it was going.
The coach – Vincenzo Italiano
At the very heart of the Viola revival was new boss Vincenzo Italiano – the man they almost never had. It looked like Rocco Commisso was heading in a very different direction, but when the Rino Gattuso era fell through in a matter of weeks, the Spezia tactician rode to the rescue. His impact was almost immediate with a new and more enterprising approach and a 4-3-3 formation that seemed designed to bring the best out of his players. Some would giggle at his constant clothing changes on the sidelines, but nobody could doubt his passion and commitment to the cause.
Player of the year – Lucas Torreira
After years of crying out for someone to give shape and order to their midfield, the Florentines finally found it in the shape of Lucas Torreira. Straight out of the gates he gave order and grit to a side which had lacked both of those qualities in years gone by. No player is greater than the system for his coach, but you certainly noticed the Uruguayan’s absence on the occasions when he couldn’t feature for whatever reason. Unfortunatey for the Tuscans, the former Samp man won’t stick around as Arsenal, Fiorentina and the player have not reached an agreement over a permanent move.
Disappointing player of the season – Bartlomiej Dragowski
It was meant to be a bounce back year for Bartlomiej Dragowski at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but it never quite worked out that way. Facing only competition from the relatively unfancied Pietro Terracciano he unfortunately emerged as second choice for the goalkeeper’s jersey. A series of misjudgements, errors and downright calamities meant his stock fell rapidly for such a promising player. A growing emphasis on playing out from the back seemed to highlight weaknesses in his play and he never really recovered as the season rolled on.