Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2013

From European places to relegation battlers: What has happened to Palermo in the last three years?

Speaking after Palermo’s 2-1 loss to Atalanta, notoriously volcanic chairman Maurizio Zamparini said “will take a night off to reflect and do what’s best for Palermo”.

Which would be reassuring statement usually, except if you happened to support Palermo.

In truth, Maurizio Zamparini has rarely ever had a mood even close to “reflective”, nor in the last three years has he made many decisions that are for the best inteests of the Rosanero he claims to hold close to his heart.

As is typical in the 71 year old’s reign in charge of Palermo, manager Gian Piero Gasparini joined the legions of ex-coaches that have lost their jobs at the hand of the impatient businessman.

In 36 months, Maurizio Zamparini has sold and not adequately replaced; Salvatore Sirigu, Javier Pastore, Edinson Cavani, Matthias Silvestre, Frederico Balzaretti and Antonio Nocerino, among others. Zamaparini was even close to letting the islander’s hero Fabrizio Miccoli return to Lecce at the end of the 2010-11 season.

From being a dark horse in the race for Champions League spots and a fairly safe bet for a Europa League, Palermo now sit 19th, with a new manager and few players that have the quality to take the club out of the predicament it’s in.

In the last three seasons Palermo  have gone from fifth(2009-10) to eighth, to sixteenth. There is no coincidence that the highest position of the three came when Delio Rossi lasted the entire season, which was in stark contrast to the circus that followed the season after, where Rossi was sacked after the 7-0 loss Udinese, before being re-hired four weeks later and guiding Palermo to the Coppa Italia final. Rather understandably, Rossi resigned at the end of the season.

The following year featured a Palermo side managed by three different tacticians, including Stefano Pioli who never oversaw a Serie A match, being sacked after losing a Europa League qualifier and amateur Devin Mangia, who was a coaching microcosm of Zamparini’s knee-jerk methodology after being signed to a lucrative contract after a six-game winning streak, and sacked after a treble of losses.

Alberto Malesani has been appointed as the new manager of the struggling side, the 25th manager Zamparini has appointed in just 11 years, and the third this season. One would assume in normal circumstances that the former Genoa coach would last until the end of the season, but history has taught us that Malesani should consider himself lucky to be employed everytime he leads a training session. Zamparini has already lowered any remaining expectations by announcing is Malesani “no saviour” – maybe the new manager would do better keeping his clothes in his suitcase.

This lack of cohesion, from tactics to personnel, plays a huge part in why Palermo have struggled to be a consistent side over the course of one season, much less an extended number of years. Teams are built over time, but the velocity in which the Sicillian side has been broken down and rebuilt has had a lasting and negative effect.

Speaking of the appointment, Zamparini said “change is good for Palermo” and that he will “never forgive” this season’s coaches Lo Monaco and Gian Piero Gasperini. However, change is not always the answer and the unforgiveable actions have been committed by the one guy who, ironically, cannot be fired.





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