A Very Busy Pre Season in Florence for me saw us rebuild the squad from last term. Whilst we performed very well last season I felt the squad was very top heavy with overseas players, so the decision was made to address this. First things first though the club was subject to a takeover which as turned an already financially secure club in to Italy’s richest club which allowed the board to give me a transfer budget of over £100m, perfect chance to rebuild the club. A large amount of players left Florence for pastures new including 14 first team players which includes 4 loan players returning to their respective clubs. Among the players leaving was Alonso, Ilicic, Roncaglia, Balero, Fernandez, Vecino, Zarate, Kallinic and Babacar, all players who played a big part in last seasons success. The players leaving the club brought in £65m in transfer revenue. I had identified the players who I wanted to bring in to the club during the later part of last season. Our squad last season finished with 7 Italian players in the first team squad of 25 players. This coming season the squad of 24 players that will start the season consists of 17 Italian players and 7 overseas players. You can see just how busy we have been in the summer. I think with our vision of competing for European honours in the future it was vital that we took the opportunity to build the squad around homegrown players. So who did we bring in? I will start with our new number 1 goalkeeper Mattia Perin from Genoa, I believe Perin is one of the best young keepers in the world. In defence we confirmed the signatures of Davide Santon, Salvatore Bocchetti and Alessio Romagnoli, I feel all 3 will add quality and experience to our defence. Coming in to our midfield Alberto Aqualani, Daniele Verde, Simone Rosso and two overseas players both from Borussia Dortmund Shinji Kagawa (£15m) and Nuri Sahin (£4m). Left winger Nicola Sansone joined from U.S Sassuolo after we triggered his £7m release clause. Up front I am pleased to secure the signatures of both Federico Bonazolli and Andrea Belotti. They will be joined by the return of Giuseppe Rossi who as returned from his loan spell at Levante. Rossi his very much part of my plans for the future and as signed a 2 year contract extension. So with the new boys in place it was time to get them out on the training ground and go about creating a good team cohesion for the season ahead. My OCD as also kicked in with my squad numbering, my preference XI are numbered 1 to 11 with my back up players being numbered from 12 onwards with the back up keeper being numbered highest in the first team squad which allows me to number from Right Back 12, Left Back 13 and so on through the squad. I know it’s sad but I like to be organised.
Fiorentina Squad 16-17
Pre Season Results
Pre Season kicked off with an away game at Carpi which we won 4-0, Kagawa scored a superb solo goal on his first run out for us. Sansone and Zivkovic 2 netted the others. We followed up with another 4-0 win against Nice in France, Belotti 2, Rodriguez and Rossi all on the scoresheet. I had played a 4-2-2-2 formation in both games which looked to work nicely in both fixtures. Due to a couple of knocks picked up in the opening games I switched to a 4-2-3-1 for our trip Spain to play Numancia, we ran out 6-1 winners, Rossi 2, Bernardeschi 2, Astori and Sansone got the goals. Next up Almeria and 6 more goals in a 6-0 win, goals from Kagawa 3, Bonazolli 2 and Aqualani. 4-2-3-1 with Bonazolli playing as a target man was our formation on the day. A switch back to 4-2-2-2 Structured team shape and a standard mentality produced another 6 goal game for us against Albacete 6-0, goals via Bonazolli 2, Rossi 2, Belotti and Rodriguez. A trip to Belgium produced a 3-1 win against a very impressive Braga who gave us a good game. Giuseppe Rossi continued his good form with a brace along with Sansone who is looking a quality purchase playing in a left sided Inside Forward role. Next was the Supercoppa game against our rivals Juventus which you can read about below. Next a ding dong battle at Real Betis which we won 4-2 but only after 2 late goals from Belotti added to Sahin and Bonazolli 1st half goals. Lucchese hosted our last warm up game before our season opener against Sampdoria. We won the game 4-1 with goals via an own goal plus Bernardeschi,Belotti and Kagawa. On review we had a very good pre season and tested a system with 3 variations that we will look to use during the season.
The build up to this game created a lot of media interest after last seasons clashes with Juventus. Unai Emery is the new Juventus manager and was very complimentary towards myself in the pre match press conference which I appreciated but was not fooled in to relaxing the importance of this game to our fans. 24 hours before the game I purchased transfer listed Nuri Sahin for £4m. I see Sahin as my conductor in chief who will play in a deep lying playmaker role for me. I decided that I would put him straight in to the starting XI for the game at The Olympico in Rome. The decision to include Sahin was the right one he controlled the midfield picking up the Man Of The Match award that included 2 assists. The game itself was another battle between two sides that gave their all in a game that produced 9 yellow cards and 1 red that saw both sides locked together 3-3 after extra time. Like our Coppa Italia victory over Juventus we came out on top after penalties. In 90 minutes we got our goals via Rossi 2 and Bernardeschi. Alberto Aqualani got his marching orders for a second yellow in extra time. I am proud of the players and how we battled and kept our nerve to take our 2nd piece of silverware back to Florence in 3 months.
The Season Ahead
Looking ahead to the forthcoming season will see us attempt to maintain a top 4 place in the league and qualify for the Champions League. The board will be happy with a Europa League spot but I want to push on and make us a top 4 team season after season by having a home grown quantity of players. If a player leaves the club the first option for us will be to see if we can promote within the club for a replacement, then if that is not an option we will then look to replace with an Italian player before looking at an overseas player. I like the Seville model of scouting and will attempt to translate their model in to FM. I have set up scouting filters to scout certain leagues / nations up to the end of December. I will then send half of our scouts out again to scout a number of players that they have identified in the first half of the season. the other half of the scouts will continue to scout leagues and nations until the end of the season. This will enable the process to continue season after season. We will also be competing in The Champions League this season and have no pressure from the board to go any further than our group, I can assure you I will be looking to progress as far has we can. I would like to retain the Coppa Italia but realise a run in Europe may have an effect on our squad physically. We are ready to go and hope for a successful campaign which will produce quality football on the way
Thanks for reading The Viola Story, my next update will be at the winter break.