(Reuters) - Former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli begins a second stint with Fiorentina on Sunday, hoping that his return can lift both the club and his own career out of a rut.
The 63-year-old, who makes his debut on the bench when they host Benevento in Serie A, was recalled last week after Beppe Iachini became the second coach to be fired since the club were bought by American billionaire Rocco Commisso in June last year.
Prandelli was previously in charge from 2005-10, giving him the distinction of being the longest-serving coach in the club’s history, and he has fond memories of that spell.
“In the last 15 years, I’ve always had Fiorentina in my thoughts,” he said. “Wherever I’ve been, I’ve always loved this club because of how it welcomed me and gave me so much. I hope to be able to give just as much back in the next few months.”
This time, he has only been given a contract until the end of the season and, even before his first game, there has already been speculation about a possible replacement -- something Prandelli has brushed aside.
“They will be offering me an extension after two or thee months,” he said.
Prandelli went on to lead Italy for four years after leaving Fiorentina, guiding his country to the Euro 2012 final, but since then his career has stuttered with a series of short stints at Galatasaray, Valencia, Al Nasr and Genoa.
Meanwhile, eight different coaches have been employed by Fiorentina since his departure.
Although they have won only two Serie A titles, Fiore have had just four seasons outside the top flight since 1932 and boast one of its most fanatical followings.
The club’s Artemio Franchi stadium, set against the backdrop of the Tuscan hills, has its own special charm despite its limitations.
However, things have yet to really pickup under Commisso and, after finishing 10th last season, Fiorentina are again mid-table in 12th place with eight points from seven games.
Commisso has so far seen his plans to build a new stadium and training centre frustrated by local bureaucracy.
“Will I leave if they won’t let me do the stadium? It’s impossible to answer this question now,” he said. “I want to take Fiorentina to the level they deserve.
“There’s too much criticism,” he added. “Whatever we do is not good enough. But the fans still love Fiorentina -- I’m just asking for time.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris
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