La Viola’s not-so purple patch

by Jack Sargeant

A side recently challenging in Europe is now one fighting for Serie A survival. There are eerie echoes of Sampdoria’s shock relegation reverberating around the Artemio Franchi in Florence, as Fiorentina succumb to their third defeat in their last four at the hands of Chievo.

The parallels with Sampdoria’s drop don’t end there. Having sold key players in both transfer windows, Fiorentina are staring down the barrel of relegation. Despite a mid-season coach change, with Delio Rossi coming in for Sinisa Mihajlovic, the Viola are still in dire straits.

They currently have a five point buffer to Lecce in the relegation zone, although with the Giallorossi being as unpredictable and erratic as their coach Serse Cosmi’s motivational techniques (notably making players watch pornography on the team coach as “it creates a great atmosphere and motivates the troops”), Lecce are still more than capable of picking up the points required to survive.

But, how did Fiorentina manage to get themselves in this position to start with? Purple may well be a regal colour, befitting the status of one of Italy’s grandest clubs. But, needless to say, no-one is too good to go down, and most definitely that includes the current crop at Fiorentina.

With the exception of their sole goalscoring threat and single top class player Stevan Jovetić, they’re an extremely average outfit. Much like Sampdoria’s sales of Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini to either half of Milan last season, the departure of calcio veterans Adrian Mutu and Alberto Gilardino in June and January respectively have meant that their goal tally is worryingly low.

The duo were together successfully at Parma in the early 2000s, and were the lynchpins of the Fiorentina attack since 2008. Selling them both, with the naïve belief that Amauri could replace them in January has proved disastrous. Amauri, who’s experienced more droughts than the Australian outback through his career, is still yet to open his account in purple.

Despite having 13.6 shots per game – more than the majority of teams in Serie A, they average only a single goal per game. Only Chievo and the almost certainly relegated pairing of Novara and Cesena have netted fewer.

Stevan Jovetić has scored a huge 41% chunk of the team’s goals, meaning that when he’s missed games they’ve been extremely lacking in attack. Juan Manuel Vargas offers the greatest threat other than the Montenegrin, evident in the fact that only Palermo attack through the left channel more.

Adem Ljajić was signed by Manchester United in 2009, only for the club to pull out due to a work permit issue later on. His head coach at Partizan said that it left him in “psychological shock.” If his performances as an attacking midfielder this season are anything to go by, he’s yet to recover.

Both Lecce and Fiorentina have equally tough run-ins, with a potentially nail-biting affair on the penultimate matchday of the season, when Delio Rossi (if he still finds himself in a job) takes his side to Via Del Mare in the historic southern city.

The aforementioned five point gap should give Fiorentina fans some comfort, even if their fixture list doesn’t. They’ve failed to score 15 times this season, and it’s not overly hyperbolic to suggest that they’re in genuine trouble.

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