Club Focus – Palermo – Betting on the future: the youthful revolution of Zamparini

With the frustrating placement of the first international break this season now behind us, it is time to start the season all over again. After spluttering to a scoreless draw at home, Palermo will be looking to rebound against newly-promoted Brescia. Incidentally, the UK readers who have Sky TV will be able to watch this game part of ESPN’s free view weekend, Sunday at 11:30am BST. Brescia, whose main target this season is to stay out of the relegation battle, will look to stifle the creativity of the Rosanero and punish any defensive fragility when they are in possession.

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With Brescia as one of the favourites to be relegated this year, it is a game Palermo must get three points from. It has been mentioned before on this website that if the Rosanero are to reach their target of the Champions League places, then they must start fast. With Inter and then Juve next in the fixtures, it is imperative that the three points are won on Sunday. Whilst Brescia did play reasonably well in their first game back in Calcio, they lacked that clinical edge, which allowed Parma to win 2-0. This is how the Rosanero can win on Sunday: by applying all the pressure in the opposition half. If Pastore can link up with the two wingers successfully and keep possession, there will be gaps in the defence for Hernandez and Maccarone to exploit. This is also another 90 minutes for the defence to try and gel before the Europa League starts up next Thursday and the big fixtures get underway. Brescia are a committed team and are prepared to fight for their survival, so this game will not be a stroll in the park. But there is too much offensive quality in this side to be silenced for another game and Palermo will go into it heavy favourites, clearly expecting the win.
Rounding up the summer transfer news, the two Maribor players signed at the end of the window, were unveiled to the press a week later. Slovenian midfielders Josip Ilicic and Armin Bacinovic have both signed having impressed while playing against the Rosanero in the previous round of the Europa League. They played very well in these games and in the round before, against Hibernian, but a few question marks remain about their transfers. There was definitely a need to strengthen the depth in the squad, especially at midfield. However, these are two very young and inexperienced players. Not to mention the fact that their style of play appears to be overabundant in the Palermo formation. Of course, this website has previously praised the Zamparini youth-based revolution, but one should always remember how important it is for it to be tempered with some experience. This newly-acquired pair of talents is simply yet another example of footballers with no Serie A or big league experience outside of Slovenia.
Ilicic, who was seen as the primary part of the deal, will be opposing Pastore to gain a first-team place on the face of it. Nonetheless, Zamparini and the coaching staff could well argue that the chances of Pastore staying in the Rosanero colours are quite remote and, for this reason, Ilicic would be best served up as his most immediate replacement. Perhaps, you have to admire the sensible realisation that Pastore is destined for great things and – you get the idea- you should utilise him while you can and for other players to learn from him. If you don’t win, however, you are just hastening up his departure time. They need help now and buying two players who are cup-tied for the Europa League does not improve that situation. While cover for injury is obviously needed, there is also a crying need for players pushing the weaker areas of the team to better things.
Fans should have some reservations about the upcoming season as the summer transfer window saw the Rosanero heavily invest in a high-risk strategy of a complete youthful takeover: one cannot help but wonder whether Maccarone and Liverani think they are babysitting when they turn up for training. The Palermo scouts have definitely earned their money over the past few years and have unearthed some real talent for the future. Even so, it is just worrying they may have to mortgage the present for this future to materialise. Time may vindicate the decisions made this summer and this website will happily acknowledge any hint of being incorrect on this subject in the future. For now, the current squad just have to try and win their games and hope they do enough in this transitional period to earn a European spot for next year.
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