Why Fiorentina fans need to keep faith in under-fire coach Vincenzo Montella

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 05 September 2019, 11:59

As rumours suggested that Fiorentina were already considering replacing their Coach Vincenzo Montella with former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso, many were thinking that such a move made sense.

In his second stint with the Tuscan outfit, Montella is yet to win a Serie A match, recording an abysmal two points from nine games in charge since being appointed towards the end of last season.

Yet the new owner of La Viola was quick to dispel any such talk, and defended the boss who last recorded a league win in management way back in March 2018 when his former club Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao.

“I heard the news of Montella’s farewell and I have to deny it, it’s fake news and he’s staying with us,” urged US based Rocco Commisso.

“I’ve already said we’re at the start and that we need time. We’ve already made progress, but we can’t do everything in one day. I’m happy with the effort made by those who work here in Florence. I know how to take risks, but I’m aiming to improve things.”

Indeed, while Montella’s record is truly awful, there are mitigating factors surrounding Fiorentina’s defeats under his stewardship that have allowed him some breathing space with Commisso.

The former AS Roma forward was appointed under extremely difficult circumstances last term, with a squad that was wholly unsuitable, players that were clearly mentally drained, and fans protesting over the apathy of the club’s former owners Andrea and Diego Della Valle.

As news of the potential takeover began to emerge, it was clear that his mandate had been to ensure Fiorentina finished the season without being relegated, an indication of just how bad things had become under the previous regime.

When Commisso sealed the deal to take ownership of the club in June, the businessman had a very short time in which to undo the damage that had been done. Following a series of astute press conferences in Florence, the supporters immediately became enamoured with both the owner himself and his right-hand man Joe Barone as an exciting new dawn and the promise of investment beckoned.

Fiorentina did no less than 45 deals in the summer transfer window as they rid themselves of many of the large excess of players that were surplus to requirements and built a new squad comprised of those who sporting director Daniele Prade deemed suitable to work with Montella.

Gone was the feeling of the “bargain basement” approach under the previous ownership as they brought in 13 new faces for the 2019/20 season.

The arrival of Franck Ribery and Kevin-Prince Boateng raised some eyebrows across the European football landscape as the Viola sought to mix youth with experience under the new regime.

Montella was the man who was handed the task of assimilating the new faces – many of whom didn’t arrive until after the first two matches of the season had been played – into a coherent squad.

His team were unlucky to lose in a thrilling 3-4 loss to Napoli at home on the opening day of the campaign, with many feeling optimistic about what was to come due to the way in which they played. However, that form did not carry through as they lost away to Genoa in week two, and that poor performance seemed to spark the rumours of the boss’ sacking.

Unlike many owners, Commisso doesn’t seem keen to make a knee-jerk sacking and instead has his focus fixed on the long-term. This team has been assembled with the Coach in mind, and Montella’s first stint at the club proved that he works well with the current sporting director.

It was Prade who built the Viola side that the current boss steered to three consecutive fourth-place finishes between 2012 and 2015, and a look at how that started shows that it is not easy to create a winning run with a newly assembled squad. Back then, the first five matches of 2012/13 season included a defeat and two draws before Fiorentina found their feet, and in January they even suffered a streak of five losses from seven matches.

This shows that patience is sometimes sorely needed when working under a new setup, but Montella will only have so long to record his first win and get his team firing.

It will not be an easy task, especially as Fiorentina face Juventus straight after the international break. There is much at stake for the boss, as his previous failures have meant that this could be his last chance to prove he has what it takes to be a success in one of Europe’s top leagues.

He’s been backed to the hilt, so now it is time for Vincenzo Montella to show and prove that Rocco Commisso was correct to put his faith in him as Fiorentina move in a new direction.

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