It was a case of third time unlucky for Parma in 2020/21 as they ended their third consecutive season in Serie A at the bottom of the table and condemned to spending 2021/22 in Serie B.
Things didn’t start off well and they only got worse with the Gialloblu becoming the second team to have their relegation confirmed after a season that Parmigiani will want to swiftly move on from.
Kyle Krause’s purchase of the club was completed too close to the beginning of the campaign for things to be put in place and organised with enough time to prepare for what would prove to be a troubled season, and now the focus turns to ensuring that their stay in the second tier is as short as possible, seeking an immediate return under the guidance of new coach Enzo Maresca.
Player of the Season: Juraj Kucka
Not many Parma players manage to escape with their reputations intact after the 2020/21 season, but Juraj Kucka is one of them.
The Slovak midfielder scored seven times over the course of the season and was his usual combative and all-action self in the centre of the park.
He had a slow start to the season as Fabio Liverani insisted on using him in a No.10 role, which he never really seemed suited to or comfortable in, but once he relocated back into the midfield three – and often wearing the captain’s armband – he looked more like the player that Parma fans have grown to love since his arrival.
Kucka will be one of the players that the club will struggle – but should be desperate – to keep hold of in Serie B and his absence will be sorely felt should he leave.
Best Signing: Valentin Mihaila
The Romanian was one of many signings made at the end of the transfer window last autumn, and he might feel as though he should have seen more regular minutes.
When he played, particularly with countryman Dennis Man, Mihaila looked lively. But his starts were few and far between, and largely had to settle for appearances from the bench.
If he stays at Parma for their 2021/22 campaign in Serie B, he’ll be one to watch as a potential Player of the Season in the division, although he’s one of the players who is likely to have suitors this summer.
The Coaches: Fabio Liverani, Roberto D’Aversa
The decision to part ways with Roberto D’Aversa was one that made a lot of sense last summer, despite the revisionism of many when he was reappointed in the winter. But for a number of reasons, Fabio Liverani didn’t work out at the Tardini and had to be replaced by his predecessor after a miserable first half of the campaign.
Liverani might have been the right man for Parma in other circumstances, but he arrived in Emilia-Romagna with a squad that didn’t suit what he wanted to do, and it never looked likely to succeed from early in the campaign.
D’Aversa’s return briefly saw an upturn in performances, but results continued to evade Parma and he was unable to steer the ship, leaving him to part ways with the club for the second time in a year at the end of the season.
After the season Parma fans have had to endure, it’s hard to imagine that any moment they remember would be anything other than negative.
That said, they drew 2-2 twice at the Stadio San Siro against AC Milan and Inter respectively, and for a time they looked as though they were going to get over the line against the Rossoneri.
As well, they did manage to claim a surprise 2-0 win over Roma which, at the time, looked like it might lead to a late and unlikely push for survival.
Unfortunately, it was pretty much the whole season. In particular, though, their struggles in front of goal under Fabio Liverani were a low even by the very low standards of the season.
The Crociati strung together an eight-match run – that was, in a way, impressive – without scoring at home. Their 2-2 draw with Udinese on February 21 saw them net at the Tardini for the first time since they drew by that same scoreline against Spezia on October 25.
Even worse than that, though, was their inability to see out leads. They blew two-goal leads against Udinese, Spezia and most decisively against Cagliari. Their loss in Sardinia all but confirmed their relegation and was delivered in the most gut-wrenching way imaginable, leading 3-2 after 90 minutes but somehow falling to a 4-3 defeat.