Fans of the big clubs sleep soundly through the January window. They nod off dreaming of the acquisitions which are going to turn their team around or make them ever more invincible. But in Florence the first month of the new year is often a tormented time, as supporters pray their transfer nightmares will not be realised.
There is a school of thought, which I subscribe to, that says the winter transfer window has become too long and unwieldy for its own good. It is certainly a long way from the old concept of the mercato di riparazione - a time for minor fixes and patching-up work. Nowadays, some sides undertake the kind of overhaul that is much more Grand Designs than 60-Minute Makeover. It’s not as if they didn’t have enough time to think about it in the summer.
The wheeling-dealing horse has bolted, of course. The main transfer session runs deep into the start of the season and the January window is nearly a month long, allowing football’s giants to place multi-million-pound depth charges under their would-be rivals. Even if a player ends up staying put, the destabilising effect can often be just as traumatic. Like an amateur entertainer pulling the tablecloth out from under your crockery, it can take a while for everything to settle back into place and repair the resultant cracks.
This is a long-winded way of saying that Fiorentina’s biggest result in January would be to keep hold of their most prized assets. Losing Nikola Kalinic, Federico Bernardeschi or Milan Badelj would feel a bit like taking Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Tower or Palazzo Vecchio off the Florence skyline. All three have been linked with big money moves elsewhere, any one of them would leave a significant hole in the horizon.
Go back 12 months, too, and you’ll understand why they have no great love of this period in the Tuscan capital. Last season the Viola were in the hunt for the Scudetto - or at least a Champions League finish - with fans crying out for an extra investment to keep them competitive. Instead, they got Mauro Zarate and loan deals for Tino Costa, Panagiotis Kone and Cristian Tello. The team might have slumped anyway, but the signal to supporters was not one of any great ambition.
This year, the club finds itself in a different kind of predicament in a campaign which has had its highs and lows and never delivered any consistency. They remain, at least notionally, in contention for a continental finish, but that looks like a tough target. The Europa League has presented them with a tricky task of seeing off Borussia Monchengladbach and, although a Coppa Italia clash with Chievo might look manageable, they find themselves in the same half of the draw as Napoli, Milan and Juventus. It could be another barren season in store.
What the team needs, however, is an injection of self-esteem more than any silverware. It is not necessarily big name signings which are required, but ones which tackle clear and present dangers in the squad. It wouldn’t take a Calciomercato genius to work out that the defence is the first starting point.
It depends, of course, what formation the boys in purple play, but there is no doubt that the loss of Marcos Alonso is still being felt on the left side of the team. Neither Hrvoje Milic nor Maxi Olivera has thrilled as his replacement and a more exciting option would surely give supporters an encouraging sign.
It is a similar story on the other side of the park, where the problems are of even longer-standing. In a four-man defence, there really is no good option for them at right-back. Nenad Tomovic will work hard, but has his limitations, while Carlos Salcedo has looked too impetuous for the tactical climes of Serie A. And poor Kevin Diks has been used more sparingly than truffle shavings in an economy pasta restaurant. Many still mourn the departure of Tomas Ujfalusi eight years ago as the last time they had a quality option on that flank.
Elsewhere, it is more about increasing their choices, rather than any major surgery. Indeed, the rumoured return of Stevan Jovetic might do more harm than good. Young Bernardeschi has shown signs lately of being able to take the whole team on his back and deliver displays of great leadership and maturity. It would surely only undermine his position to have Jo-Jo waiting in the wings.
Of course, the whole situation could change in the event of a big-name departure. If any of the courted trio of Kalinic, Badelj and Bernardeschi should be lost, then the need for a replacement becomes much greater. The names being linked with the club, such as Nuri Sahin, Sebastian Larsson or Diego Laxalt are all decent players, but hardly likely to transform your season.
It looks like it is going to be another difficult start to the year in the Renaissance City. And those of a purple persuasion are unlikely to be getting much sleep any time soon.