Welcome to the latest post of The Viola Story (Flying The Flag In Florence). A lot as happened since my last update but I want to start by talking a bit about how I am managing Fiorentina. I am a pretty slow player so a season takes me a long time to finish because I like to get involved in everything in the game, I can sometimes switch on and before you know it 4 hours have passed and I have only played 1 game and spent the rest of the time analysing it and scouting players in West Africa. I tend to watch most games in full to get the feel how we are playing and what we have done well and of course identify areas we need to improve. This last season I feel I that I now manage in game a lot better than years gone by. I have whilst writing these blogs been asked about sharing my tactics with the community which I have shared with a few people who have requested them. I always say though that you need to tweak the tactics to suit your players. I have a clear picture in my mind how I want my teams to play and create a tactic / formation that is the framework that I then build on by setting and tweaking roles via in game management, below is the formation that I am currently using and have used this season with the Viola. It looks a very offensive system but what I do with the player roles and mentality are key to the system being balanced between defending and attacking, this is were I have improved as a manager in my opinion. Yes I want to play fluid attacking football and dominate the ball but to be successful I know we have to be solid defensively. What I do now in game if things are not going our way is leave the team instructions alone and concentrate on the players and their role within the system (framework). If I need more cover in front of the defence then the change is made and so on. You could plug this tactic in to any team in the world and it could flop big time or equally it could be a world beater , it’s about how you manage your players within the framework, for me that as made this game take on a whole new dimension and believe me when you are staring defeat in the face and you make that change that earns you a point or three on the road at Carpi it gives you a feeling of euphoria that every FM manager loves.
The Season has been built around a strong nucleus of Italian players who have provided us with a professional dressing room, and if you was wondering yes it includes Mario Balotelli who I brought in on loan to cover a small injury crisis in January. Balotelli as given me another option in attack were I have used him as a poacher in our system. The idea was to have an Italian influenced squad which we have done and it’s paid off.
Well I am proud to announce we are Champions of Italy it’s been a superb season in Florence and we can proudly fly the flag in Florence to celebrate the club’s first title since 1969. We won our last 9 league games by only conceding 1 goal after reverting to the 4-3-3 system above. We wrapped the title up with 3 games to go. With only 2 defeats all season we built a solid platform that enabled us to win the title. Zivkovic was outstanding playing as an inside forward scoring 12 goals plus being our leading assists maker, he was voted player of the year in Serie A and is now a target for PSG. Our leading goalscorers were Rossi 18, Bonazolli 17 and Sansone 13.
We fell short in Europe after being knocked out of the Champions League we then reached the 2nd round of the Europa League but went out to FC Porto 2-1 on aggregate. The first leg in Portugal was a difficult night for us we took a patched up side to the Estadio do Dragao and pinched an away goal losing 2-1 which gave us a good chance of getting a result in Florence. The 2nd leg was one way traffic but we could not find the net hitting the woodwork no fewer than 3 times with Federico Bonazolli missing a second half penalty. I could not fault the performance but on reflection we need to find something else in Europe. With us being in the Champions League next season I need to have a think about how I can make our system more robust against our opponents next season.
We reached the Coppa Italia final again after a a tough Semi Final against Lazio, we lost the first leg in Rome 1-0 and to be honest we rode our luck in the Olimpico with Lazio by far the best team on the night. The return in Florence was a tight affair with Lazio parking the bus, it took us until late on in the 2nd half to grab a goal and take it in to extra time were both sides drew a blank. So it was down to penalties were we edged in to the final courtesy of a Balotelli winner giving us a 5-4 result. Our opponents in the final yet again are our old rivals Juventus. In the final we lost 1-0 in the 2nd period of extra time. Again it was a bruising affair with both teams giving it their all.
I am pleased to have signed a new four year contract, it comes at a time when we have been crowned Champions of Italy and shows that both myself and the club are looking long term has we attempt to establish the club as Italy’s leading club.
All the squad are all on holiday, recharging the batteries for next season. I will be back with our Pre-Season post soon were I will be setting the scene for my 3rd season in Florence.
The Viola Story So Far
Serie A Runners Up – Coppa Italia Winners
Serie A Champions – Italian Super Cup Winners – Coppa Italia Runners Up