Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella insists that the “hard work starts here” in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, after having recorded back-to-back wins in the last two matches.
Tomorrow, Fiorentina play versus Udinese. It’s impossible to forget that they were the opponents when Davide Astori tragically passed away.
“Of course, that Sunday I was at home because I wasn’t working at the time, and I experienced, like everyone else, a surreal Sunday. Like when you feel you are awake but actually you are dreaming. It seemed impossible that a young man like this, suddenly, is not there any more. They were sad days. I didn’t know Astori very well, but now I am in Florence, I feel like I know him because he lives everywhere: in the dressing room, in the local area, in the shops. He’s present in the memories of everyone.
“It gives me the chills to say it, but his is a living presence in the stadium, in his team-mates. In every match, at the 13th minute, he is remembered. Everything is like that first day. It’s a truly sad and incredible story.”
Within the space of a few weeks, you have changed the minds of the team, the city and the entire country with your work. What was it like, both then and now?
“Our project this year has definitely been accompanied by the enthusiasm of everything being new. The owner, to give him credit, has generated so much interest. However, on this new and positive climate stood the shadow of the previous season, and therefore all judgement was based on that. It created a difficult situation, there was an ownership that had declared they wanted to hand over the baton, and it all felt precarious.
“With the change of owner we brought in 18 new players and on top of that we had to deal with a fixture list that was incredibly draining at the beginning. We faced three of the teams that had finished in the top four spots in the opening four matches. Teams that had made the Champions League and had much higher budgets.
“We played well in the opening matches, but we only picked up two points. Everyone recognised that we were playing good football, but we had so little to show for it. Fortunately, the city showed faith in us, the fans were extraordinary. They always spur us on, even before our two victories.
“The win versus Samp liberated us, and from there we got ourselves together a little bit. We did the job in Milan, but I believe that now comes the most difficult part. From Sunday, preparing for the matches will be different. We must demonstrate that we deserve the enthusiasm that we hear all around us.”
Where will Fiorentina end up this season?
“Honestly, I don’t know. The owners haven’t set particular objectives. We are all very ambitious. But with humility.”