In one of the most non-shocking moves, Fiorentina summed up the courage to relieve Beppe Iachini of his services and name Cesare Prandelli in his place. After naming him the new La Viola manager last season, club owner Rocco Commisso must have thought that that Iachini would finally help the team scale new heights.
Little did the new owner know that the decision would backfire with the club’s former midfielder unable to turn things around after a very poor start to the 2020-21 Serie A campaign where the team is closer to a relegation scrap than it is to a European place.
322 days after his appointment, the former Sassuolo and Empoli boss finds himself without a job and a reputation in tatters. Iachini was at the dugout for 30 games in which he saw his team lose 8 times, drew 10 times and managed 12 victories.
In a reign that last little under a year, the Italian tactician ended up using 37 different players to turn the tide but the fact that his team’s defensive structure was never on par, simply sealed his fate.
Opting for a flat 3-5-2 formation and devoid of the services of an excellent Federico Chiesa, Iachini simply did not have the sort of players who would turn things around.
There are definitely quite a lot of issues that cannot be ignored. To begin with, as discussed earlier this summer, the Viola’s defense is an issue. Not that it is a porous defense that would concede goals all the time but it isn’t either the type that would inspire a lot of confidence.
Taking a look at the defenders they have at their disposal, apart from Serbian international Nikola Milenkovic, there is no other defender who you would call an elite player or someone who can hold their own against the best offensive lines Serie A has on offer.
Igor Julio is a long-term project and while Martin Caceres is a well traveled nomad, he no longer has the legs to play 90 minutes week in week out.
During the summer transfer window Fiorentina’s overall business in the transfer market was indicative of a side that needed a better recruitment strategy. Lucas Martinez Quarta was signed from River Plate while José Callejon joined for free after his contract with Napoli expired.
While Chiesa was always going to be a difficult player to hold on to, it was a little surprising to see Jordan Veretout leave for Roma and the club not necessarily bringing in a capable replacement. Similarly, Giovanni Simeone was sold to Cagliari and the striker’s goals are being missed in all honesty. This is something that now even the appointment of Prandelli at Fiorentina can change.
Coming back to Callejon who has spent most of his time playing as a right-sided forward or winger, it was truly shocking to see how Iachini persisted to use the Spaniard as a center-forward and never really gave him enough minutes on the pitch either.
The former Napoli man’s performances were not great while playing in a fairly unaccustomed role so you have to wonder why Iachini was being so persistent.
One poor display after another, we all knew that Iachini was on borrowed time and president Commisso was not going to stay quiet for long. Therefore, the game against Parma – another team that has been shoddy at best – was likely going to be his last chance.
Parma had more wind in their sails, heading into this encounter on the back of a 2-2 draw against Internazionale at the San Siro. Fiorentina were abysmal against Roma, folding 2-0 without offering much resistance.
Fiorentina’s wing-backs tend to offer a lot of width when the team goes on the attack but the problem is that the rest of the team always seems to not take advantage of that and this is down to the fact that Iachini always preferred a more conservative approach during his time.
After it became clear that they would never find a way around Parma’s back five, Iachini clearly instructed his wing-backs to bombard the home side’s penalty area with regular crosses. It was more of a roll the dice situation since, during that game, only one cross was successful in both halves.
Under Iachini, Fiorentina have shown an ability to keep the ball but the problem is that sterile possession never wins you games. This constant recycling of possession eases the pressure off of the opponents who keep getting enough time to keep their shape intact.
This also forced the likes of Erick Pulgar, Sofyan Amrabat, and Franck Ribery to drop deep in order to see more of the ball. As a consequence, the likes of Patrick Cutrone and Christian Kouamé are left to fend on their own.
Seeing Giuseppe Iachini’s side play a Serie A game was like watching a training session. There was never really any urgency to create opportunities (except for that 4-3 loss to Inter).
Up against a team as negative as Parma, Iachini should have instructed his players to press. However, the team in general played inside a shell and did not really take any risks. Furthermore, the team’s overall fluidity wasn’t that great either; another issue that we have observed a lot this season.
The lack of fluidity or off the ball movement can be truly frustrating since during the game against Parma, you could see the likes of Ribery, ,and Amrabat clearly frustrated to see no option further up the field. Seeing that there was no one trying to make a run, they would go for a sideways or backwards pass.
Now it is now up to Cesare Prandelli to see if he can jump-start Fiorentina. Prandelli was at the dugout between 2005 and 2010 when the Della Valle family was in power and left the bench to manage the national side.
As someone who is well-loved at Fiorentina, Prandelli arrives at the Artemio Franchi Stadium on the back of some happy memories but with only eight points from seven games, the veteran tactician knows that he has quite a task on his hands.
But will he be able to turn the tables?
Or better, will Commisso actively support his latest appointment?