Palermo Club Focus: It’s only a matter of time and yet…
Despite his best efforts, Giuseppe Sannino’s second stint with the Rosanero started the same way his first did: with a loss. The Sicilian side fell to AC Milan by a 2-0 scoreline on Sunday, extending the club’s winless run to sixteen matches. A trip to the San Siro to take on the Rossoneri is an arduous task for most sides at this time, so it was no surprise that the Rosanero could not snap their year long woes away from the Renzo Barbera.
The match was, like many Palermo matches this season, riddled with individual errors and offensive sterility that have condemned the side to last place in the standings. Salvatore Aronica, brought in during the January transfer window in hopes that his ample experience would help the Rosanero, was at fault for both goals in a match he will no doubt want to forget.
A clear hold on Mario Balotelli in the penalty area inside the first ten minutes made things difficult from the get-go. He then added to his miserable performance by deflecting a M’Baye Niang’s cross into Stefano Sorrentino, who could not control the deflection before Super Mario came in to easily slot the rebound home.
Given that Palermo struggle to score goals at the best of times, it was no surprise they weren’t able to mount a comeback. This isn’t to pin the blame solely on the shoulders of Aronica, because as has been noted ad nauseum in this club focus, the problems afflicting Palermo run much deeper than that. What it does show is that the attempts to patch up this Rosanero side in January have not paid off, and will likely result in this side playing Serie B football next season.
As mentioned earlier, the biggest news heading into the match was the return of the Sannino as Palermo bench boss, after last week’s dismissal of Gian Piero Gasperini. Very few, if any fans, believe Sannino will save Palermo from near certain relegation, but the mere fact that he has returned is a positive as the club look to the future. Sannino admitted after the match that he isn’t concerned about his status for next season, as his only focus is to get the most out of his players in their final nine matches. A standard answer, given it isn’t certain he will be the coach of this side next season but it would be a wise choice to keep the Campania native on given his track record in the lower divisions.
Before impressing at Siena last season, Sannino cut his teeth in the lower ranks of Italian football. Three consecutive promotions with Pergocrema and Varese (which took the club from Serie C2 to Serie B) between 2007 and 2010 are proof that Sannino can handle the stress of the lower leagues.
A loss in the promotion playoffs against Padova (lead by a then unknown Stephan El Shaarawy) denied Sannino the chance to take his Varese side to Serie A, but did cement his reputation as an astute tactician in the Italian game. As we know, there is no way to predict what Maurizio Zamparini will do in the future but given Sannino’s track record, it would be a positive step forward if he were to keep the current coach behind the bench during the long grind that is the Serie B season. Whether he would remain there for an entire season is another story, as we all unfortunately know too well…
While I have stated on more than one occasion that I believe it is just a matter of time before Palermo are mathematically relegated, the math states that they still have a chance to avoid the drop. It remains highly unlikely, but with good reason hope should not be completely abandoned. The Rosanero host Roma when the Serie A resumes on March 30th. A difficult match considering the Giallorossi are unbeaten in their last five matches, winning four of those fixtures.
However if, and I do emphasis if, Palermo were able to get a result they could be right back in the thick of things. That is because Genoa will play host to Siena in a relegation six-pointer that will no doubt have a big impact on the standings for both sides, but also for Pescara and Palermo as they look to climb out of their predicament, in whichever way that they can.
Admittedly, it is a longshot that Palermo will save themselves regardless of what happens two weekends from now. However, it would go a long way in repairing the disconnect between the club and fans if they were to go down swinging furiously until the final matchday, even if the odds of a David versus Goliath upset are highly unlikely.
Follow Adriano Boin on Twitter: @Boin44