The island of Sicily is synonymous with the Mafia and its steeped history of organised crime from the start of the nineteenth century. Hollywood’s interpretation of ‘the family’ is quite obviously glamorised but almost always the head of the family is a traditionalist, the vanguard of all operations. Football is such that it can draw parallels with its surroundings and in the capital of Sicily the chairman of the Palermo is as involved, and at times over-involved, as the head of the family.
Maurizio Zamparini is an eccentric character, known to eat Coaches for breakfast. An astounding carousel of over 16 appointments during his time as Chairman, we know little of Devis Mangia, who prior to his promotion was working for Varese and the Palermo Primavera side. In trusting his new Director of Football, Sean Sogliano, whom Mangia had worked with at Varese before, Zamparini gave the young 37 year old a crack at the whip, installing him as ‘Caretaker Manager’. A title which still sits quite uncomfortably by those who would like to see Palermo have some stability and perhaps grow and reach for the heady heights of yesteryear.
Mangia’s first game in charge was the extraordinary 4-3 thriller at home against world champions Inter. Since then, the Rosanero have yet to concede a point at the Renzo Barbera. However, they have failed to replicate that form away from home, having collected just a measly point from a possible 12. Even worse than that, they have failed to score in any of those four games.
Clearly not an ideal situation for Palermo but strangely, it is a side that doesn’t have a cycle unlike the other clubs – such is the constant transfer and coach activity at the club. It’s a club that has managed to solidify their status as a top half club in Serie A since the investment brought in by Zamparini in 2002.
In the past, Zamparini would have been tickling the trigger of his pink and black gun if a bad result went against Palermo. As of yet, Mangia has avoided execution mainly because of his unwillingness to face off against the Chairman. Zamparini wanted a change in formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-1-2 to which Mangia reluctantly complied with. It may be a sign of softness creeping into the Chairman or perhaps he genuinely believes that Mangia is the man who can really develop the young players of the sides such as Josip Ilicic, Abel Hernandez and Eran Zahavi and make the club enough money to prolong their status in the division.
Fabrizio Miccoli claimed to have liked ‘this one’ (meaning the Coach) mainly because of his forward thinking coaching style and his ability to engage with the players. The side are playing in a composed structured manner and with all the creative players at Mangia’s disposal, the side have relative balance especially at home but it is a matter of finding the correct one away from home. Given the new players embedded into the club and the relative inexperience of both the Coach and his said players, it will undoubtedly take some time.
The question still remains as to whether Mangia will be eating his panettone – such is the trigger happy nature of Zamparini.