After more than a month and a half of league action, it appeared inevitable that the campaign’s first managerial casualty would be coming out of Florence.
Giuseppe Iachini had Fiorentina mired in the bottom half of the table, and Saturday’s dour 0-0 draw at Parma showed that drastic improvements must be made in order to satisfy owner Rocco Commisso’s European ambitions. “Beppe” deserves credit for stabilizing a listing ship at the back end of last season but keeping him on any longer would have only hold the Tuscans back.
Ultimately, the experienced 56-year old did not adapt to the relative embarrassment of riches at his disposal. Iachini is an expert at earning promotion from the second tier, while his previous top-flight experiences were with sides battling against the drop.
That makes this upwardly mobile Fiorentina easily the most talented squad he has coached, but “Beppe” had not amended his stodgy style.
The Ascoli Piceno-born tactician had favored a conservative 3-5-2 wherever he has gone, and that had been the base formation in Florence. A safety-first approach was instrumental to La Viola’s solid form this summer, but its limitations have since been exposed.
Despite boasting a host of quality creators, the Tuscans did not translate that talent into clear goal-scoring opportunities with nearly enough frequency. Main men Gaetano Castrovilli and Franck Ribery were too often found far away from dangerous areas, with the wing-backs relied on for much of the team’s attacking thrust.
That was less of a problem when Federico Chiesa was wreaking havoc down the right flank, but the Italian international’s deadline day departure to bitter rivals Juventus has reduced the threat in that sector.
Although left wing-back Cristiano Biraghi has hit the ground running in his second spell in purple, he lacks the incisive dribbling ability of the former academy product.
A potential solution would be to construct through the middle of the pitch with greater regularity. In order to make that shift successful, Iachini would have to throw caution to the wind, which he was reticent to do at the Ennio Tardini.
Holding midfielders Sofyan Amrabat and Erick Pulgar were fielded together for the first time at the expense of the more expansive Giacomo Bonaventura, but the ex-Milan man did not enter until minute 83. When he did, it was for Castrovilli.
Beyond that head-scratching substitution, the three center-backs were maintained for the duration against a host that was content to soak up pressure and hit out on the break.
Such a measured outlook would have been understandable against one of the peninsula’s elite outfits, but it made rather less sense when faced with one the division’s weaklings.
Even though Iachini was not fit for purpose, that does not mean his hiring was a mistake. Previous incumbent Vincenzo Montella had La Viola staring down the barrel of a second consecutive relegation scrap before he was sacked, and avoiding another nerve-wracking escape was surely at the forefront of Commisso’s thoughts.
“Beppe” more than completed that objective, but Fiorentina took the right decision as the team would have not developed any further under the man with the hat.
Cesare Prandelli has returned on an interim basis, and Commisso will hope that he can repeat the feats of his first spell at the helm. Yet, the well-respected trainer has overseen just 62 matches since resigning from the Italy post following a disappointing 2014 World Cup, and it is unclear if he will be able to recapture the spirit of the mid-2000’s.
Prandelli will prove a popular choice with the fans, but Commisso must be spot on with his next permanent hire for the Artemio Franchi hotseat.