Fiorentina are the very definition of inconsistency. Ever since Vincenzo Montella took charge, La Viola have had an 18-game winless run followed by a six-game unbeaten streak. But last night’s defeat to Lecce extended another negative stretch to four, with Montella’s future now under more scrutiny than ever.
The brief six-game unbeaten run was a pretty impressive one. They played some very good counter-attacking football with two false nines up front, but the club had won only three out of those six games. All three wins came against struggling sides. Sampdoria were at the edge of disaster under Eusebio Di Francesco, Milan were settling in under Marco Giampaolo, while Udinese had won only twice till then.
They did pick up a point against Juventus and Atalanta, but the 3-5-2 shape was specifically designed to keep them quiet. It did keep the trick, but after a short burst of making La Viola fans dream, things have petered away like the good times never came.
And all of a sudden, they are one of the worst teams in the division. Fiorentina have lost to two newly-promoted sides within seven days. They took a 5-2 hammering at the hands of Rolando Maran’s high-flying Cagliari before that, meaning that it has been over a month since the club actually won a game.
What makes the picture even more gloomy is the fact that Montella’s side has failed to score even once against a newly promoted side. Brescia held them to a goalless draw, while 1-0 losses to Verona and Lecce have made sure that Montella could be gone soon.
There seems to be an inflexibility of approach, considering how Montella has failed to change the system against lesser sides. This is a team that new owner Rocco Commisso has big plans for, considering his desire to see them finish around the top four. But Montella’s approach and inability to change has showed that he isn’t the manager to take them there.
This is a side that roped in 13 players over the summer. Those signings had given hope for a change of fortunes under Montella.
Things were very similar for Montella at Sevilla too. The Italian did take the Andalusians to the Copa del Rey final and helped them notch up a historic Champions League Round of 16 win over Manchester United, but it was never pretty in La Liga.
After losing the first two with Real Betis and Alaves, Montella’s Sevilla won four out of their five games. But a nine-match winless run followed. This did include a one-off 2-2 draw against Barcelona, but also had losses to Leganes and Levante.
That is very reminiscent of his current tenure at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. They’ve had one-off results, but they’ve lost games that can get managers sacked. They’ve had a decent run, but they’ve also had one bad run and one horrendous run.
His experience towards the end of the Milan tenure shows that he can’t be trusted with new signings either. The Rossoneri had made 11 summer signings in 2017 and Montella could not inculcate them into the side. While it is always tough to do so for any manager, Montella was asked to do the same in Florence. And in that sense, this was bound to happen.
And over time, Fiorentina have lost the identity that they had in that six-game run. Federico Chiesa’s injury hasn’t helped, as it has forced Montella into playing a different sort of forward in young Dusan Vlahovic. While the tall 19-year-old is quick on the turn, he doesn’t have Chiesa’s pace. Because of that, it is tough for La Viola to play in the same counter-attacking style as Chiesa did with Franck Ribery.
How ambitious Commisso looked early on, the current situation isn’t good enough for what he wanted. Fiorentina can find themselves at 14th at the end of the gameweek and this fact has already sent alarm bells blaring. With Rino Gattuso being heavily linked with the post, it is time for La Viola to act or things could get worse than they are. Montella’s recent history shows that.