2008/09 – Last season did not start particularly well for the Rosanero as they exited the Coppa Italia in the third round and lost their first game of the season to Udinese. Stefano Colantuono was replaced by Davide Ballardini shortly after these losses and the club pulled together to establish itself firmly in the top half of the division. Improving on 2007/08 was a massive achievement for the team given the loss of key players at the beginning of the campaign and the season must be considered a success.
2009/10 – Losing Ballardini to Lazio ended months of speculation and saw the appointment of Walter Zenga as the new Coach. Looking forward to the season ahead, Zenga has set his sights on a Champions League position in Serie A and the club will certainly have to go some way to achieve this. The squad has been improved over the summer and will undoubtedly challenge the teams above them but consistency will be the aim for the former Catania Tactician and a similar position to last season would be an achievement for the squad.
Transfer campaign – Palermo have made several signings so far this summer and Zenga will be happy with his new look squad. Dorin Goian adds a new dimension at the back and the addition of former Steaua Bucureşti captain will certainly give the club some more leadership. Rubinho will directly replace the outgoing Marco Amelia in goal whilst the Argentinean duo – Nicolás Bertolo and Javier Pastore – will give Palermo more options in midfield.
Giacomo Brichetto – Novara – loan
Rubinho – Genoa – player exchange
Nicolás Bertolo – Banfield – £3m
Nicola Rigoni – Vicenza – co-ownership
Javier Pastore – Talleres – £5.6m
Dorin Goian – Steaua Bucureşti – undisclosed
Marco Amelia –Genoa – player exchange
Ciro Capuano – Catania – £2.5m
Federico Agliardi – Padova – undisclosed
Alberto Fontana – free agent
Mirko Savini – PAOK FC – free
Boško Janković – Genoa – £3m
Gianvito Misuraca – Vicenza – co-ownership
Hernán Paolo Dellafiore – Parma – loan
Andrea Raggi – Bologna – loan
Roberto Guana – Bologna – loan
First XI – All of the major signings should take their place in starting XI over the course of the season. Just how well the new players take to Italian football will decide how successful the team will be, but on paper the side certainly look strong. The full-backs will be urged on to provide width whilst the most attacking three will be the invention of the side. The hard working midfield will aim to deny the opponents a moment to pause and give the attackers the best chance to influence the game by maintaining possession.
16 Cassani – 3 Goian – 24 Kjaer – 42 Balzaretti
23 Bresciano – 11 Liverani – 30 Simplicio
7 Cavani – 10 Miccoli
The Coach – Moving over from Catania was a brave move for Zenga but he proved his worth at the Sicilian club – keeping them in Serie A for yet another season. He is not the most experienced of Coaches in the top flight but his ambition is admirable. Joining a team and even mentioning the Champions League is a terrific statement of intent and Zenga must believe the club are capable. With a vast wealth of knowledge as a player, he is the ideal man to help the squad progress and several of Palermo’s youngsters may well improve under the Italian this season.
Team/reliable player – Fabio Liverani, Palermo’s captain, is the most dependable man in the squad. Certain to put his team first at any cost, Liverani plays in a deep role that enables him to organise defence and midfield to get the most out of his teammates. He also ensures the ball is kept moving from side to side and is a constant option for the team to enable them to get out of trouble. As Liverani’s age starts to catch up with him, he will increasingly be used as the man to protect a lead and will become even more important in the dressing room. A leader and fabulous player, the Italian can be relied on game after game.
Creative force – Fabrizio Miccoli is well renowned for his creativity and it has never been as obvious as in his time in Sicily. Last season, Miccoli and Edison Cavani formed a formidable partnership at the front of Palermo’s line-up and saw the diminutive Italian in fabulous form. Creating goals comes just as naturally as scoring them, and he is fast developing a reputation in Italy for both. Scoring directly from corners is just one of Miccoli’s wide repertoire as the forward aims to entertain everybody watching. His partnership with Cavani will be vital this season and the forwards can definitely produce if the team can give them enough of the ball.
Youth prospect – Michel Morganella may be the man to break into the Palermo team this season. Having signed for the Rosanero in the January transfer window, Morganella will now concentrate on improving his game to push for the bench and force his way into the Switzerland youth set-up. The talented right-back impressed very quickly at FC Basel and was given first-team experience before his move to Italy. With six months in the country, the youngster will have a greater understanding of Italian football and a grasp of the language – a perfect base from which to launch this season.
The fixtures – Twice in the season, Palermo will be hindered by a three game draw of Roma, Lazio and Juventus. Other than these games, the team should be able to get off to a good start and end with a flourish. However, the issue is not the matches themselves, but the potential repercussions should the team fail to impose themselves on the opposition in the 90 minutes. Losing three in a row could be damaging to Palermo’s long-term form and the club will have to be wary not to let this happen.
Home grown players – Over half of Palermo’s squad is Italian and the club would have little trouble in dealing with any potential rulings from FIFA or UEFA. One concern may be the aging of a few of their home-grown stars but well thought out activity in the transfer market as well as investment in future talent for the squad should see Palermo unfazed by any decision made.
Predictions – Without European fixtures to think about – and a dreadful display in the Coppa Italia last season – Palermo may well focus on gaining a domestic trophy. The club have an unsuccessful history in the tournament but have the squad to compete all the way to the end. Finishing the campaign in a similar position to last year would enable the club to build once more at the end of the season and would be considered a success. If Zenga can muster something even greater out of the squad it will be a remarkable feat, but consolidation outside the European places is essential – from here the club will be able to advance into the top six over the coming seasons.