Club Focus – Palermo – Better Performances, Same Results

Two games into a defining three game week and the Rosanero have two losses, both by one goal. Despite this, Palermo have played much better and seem to be shaking off the cobwebs acquired in the summer. The Europa League game on Thursday was a 3-2 defeat in Prague but it was a game they dominated. Once again, defensive frailties and sloppy mistakes cost them the game. On Sunday, they welcomed Inter to Sicily and almost pulled off an excellent result after taking the lead in the first half. Samuel Eto’o was to deny them, however, with a second half brace to give them all three points. Playing counter attack football, the Rosanero just couldn’t hold on as Inter’s dominance eventually told.

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You cannot fault the commitment from the defence against the Nerazzurri, as time and time again they would fly in front of the ball using any body part to block. But these defenders were quite simply, severely technically outmatched. The European champions have too much quality up front for the Palermo defence to handle. The prime example of this was the first goal for Inter. The Argentinean central defender, Ezequiel Munoz, was twisted and turned by Eto’o and ultimately got nowhere near him, giving a striker of his quality far too much time in the box.

In the new 4-3-3 formation, the defence was stacked behind the ball, replicating the Inter from last term. Although they looked very good going forward, they were unable to stop the first league loss at home since the first half of 2009. By creating such a negative tactic for a home game, Rossi knew Palermo were outmatched and just tried to neutralise the Nerazzurri.

The Head Coach was happy however: ‘Aside from the result I was pleased with the performance. Despite some great showings we don’t seem to be reaping what is sown.’ It was a much better performance than the previous two league games and they had the chance to win it but just weren’t clinical enough. To win against the giants of the Italian game, you have to be ruthless for an entire 90 minutes. It is difficult to see this side doing that for a sustained period of time. Thursday’s trip to Turin will be a bigger test as Juve seem to be in a similar boat to the Rosanero as they can score, but occasionally lapse in defence. An offence, which has scored seven goals in its last two games, however, will likely see Palermo line up in a similar fashion and just try to defuse everything the Old Lady throws at it.

Ultimately, this is a results business and despite the improved performances Delio Rossi will now be feeling the pressure. Last week, club president Maurizio Zamparini, stated that the team are better than they are playing and Rossi needed to improve the defence. After Thursday’s defeat in the Czech Republic, Zamparini delivered the clearest message that Rossi is on the hot seat: ‘He must say that he got it wrong, otherwise he will be at risk as well.’ The president is not averse to firing managers and Rossi must be very worried if the results don’t improve. He went on: ‘I am very disappointed. We cannot score four goals just to win a game. We have to move on, we will resolve this amalgamation problem.’

With a trip to an erratic Juventus in mid-week, it is difficult to predict what will happen but improvements in results are needed and soon. While it will most likely be Rossi who will pay with his job, it is the responsibility of the person who builds the squad. This defence is not competitive and they seem a long way from becoming a cohesive unit. It will be Rossi who will pay if things don’t improve but Zamparini is not absolved from guilt. The pair of them have conspired to build a team with obvious frailties, which are being exposed early in the campaign. Through the long grind of the season, the teams who have success are the best at making adjustments. If Rossi wants to keep his job to the end of the season, he had better find a way of adjusting this defence and stopping the permanent leaking occurring.

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