Sinisa Mihajlovic a Worthy Heir to Cesare Prandelli at Fiorentina?

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Sinisa Mihajlovic a Worthy Heir to Cesare Prandelli at Fiorentina?
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Every July or August seems to throw up a song of the summer in Italy. It is usually an infuriatingly catchy piece of Euro-pop that drifts from a jukebox across the still water of the swimming pool on a long, hot afternoon. Hear it once, hum it forever.

I am old enough to remember one particularly infuriating ditty entitled "Vamos a la Playa." It must have sprung forth some time in the 1980s, but more recently it was adopted by Fiorentina fans as the tune for their tribute to the club's coach.

Cesare Prandelli, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

It did not take a lot to learn but for five years it was the soundtrack to Florentine Sundays. Now they will need to start singing to a different beat.

In the chop and change world of Italian football, Prandelli was its equivalent of Sir Alex. He helped to rebuild Fiorentina from a team which had only just bounced back from Serie C2.

In return, he received the fans' affection which helped him through the hard times of watching his beloved wife pass away. Only in the final days, as results went bad and he was courted by the national team, did that fan-coach relationship show signs of strain.

Now it is time to start again from scratch.

There is no doubt Sinisa Mihajlovic is a very different character from his predecessor. Anyone who remembers him from his playing days will be aware of that.

He was a spiky individual, never one to back down from standing toe-to-toe with an opponent. Most notable was his verbal run-in with Patrick Vieira and his European ban for spitting at Adrian Mutu—interestingly enough, a player now under his command.

There is also the small matter of his off-the-field acquaintances too. His friendship with the late Serbian paramilitary leader Arkan has been criticised in many quarters. It is hard to imagine Prandelli keeping such company.

However, it is easy to forget that Mihajlovic was also a talented footballer. In his younger days, he was a classy midfielder and became a strong sweeper in his later years. His power-packed free-kicks and corners were a threat throughout his career.

His coaching exploits have certainly started off encouragingly. A brief spell at Bologna did not produce many fireworks, but last season he turned Catania from relegation certainties into one of Italy's form sides.

If he can carry on that work in Florence, nobody will be looking too closely at his past. He is an up-and-coming tactician and motivator who deserves his chance with a bigger club.

The first signing, Gaetano D'Agostino, hints at some serious ambition to return the Viola to the Champions League positions.

There could never be another Cesare, so maybe the Tuscan club has done the right thing in appointing such a radically different boss. A late-season slump showed they needed to be shaken up a bit.

Mihajlovic deserves a bit of time to make his own mark after stepping into the managerial moccasins of such a revered individual. A Roberto Mancini-style looped scarf looks likely to replace the purple puffer jacket favored by his predecessor. Many other more important matters are also set to change.

That's no bad thing after a season of highs and lows for the Viola. The Serbian might just be the man to set them back towards the top end of the table.

And then the fans will surely find a new chant in which to incorporate his name.

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