Club Focus – Palermo – Growing pains

Palermo have continued their struggle to open up this new season with a poor 3-2 defeat at Brescia. After going behind to a freak goal early on, the Rosanero settled down and established the control of the game with a changed formation from their usual diamond. Playing with one up front and two attacking midfielders, they lacked real penetration but the pressure of the possession took its toll, with Javier Pastore capitalising from close range. For the final twenty minutes of the first half, one of the multiple teenage summer recruits, Ezequiel Munoz, forgot all about defending and preceded to gift Brescia two goals. Federico Balzaretti’s late goal was nothing but a consolation and the Rosanero have continued their poor away form from last year into this year.

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Head Coach, Delio Rossi, has blamed the first half performance: ‘We gifted 45 minutes to the opposition.’ In truth, there were patches of the first half with such incisive passing and movement going forward, the Rosanero reminded you of Barcelona. Brescia struggled to contain the attacking force but the lack of a partner really hindered Abel Hernandez, who struggled to create space and make an impact. Rossi went on to say: ‘Today we were superficial. We need to play like a team if we are to pick up results.’ This is the problem for Palermo in a nutshell – they simply have little cohesion, predominantly in defence, and are playing like strangers. Normally, you would put this down to being so early in the season and they will gel together eventually. They have the problem, however, of having to play Sparta Prague on Thursday, followed by league games against Inter and Juventus. If they don’t pick up their performance levels soon, they will quickly find themselves looking a long way up the table.
As mentioned before on this website, the problem of investing in young players in key areas, is that they will make mistakes, which they need to do to learn. But, these mistakes will cost the club games, as it did on Sunday lunchtime. By costing the club points throughout the season, Palermo will finish lower down the table and potentially out of Europe, thus making the Sicilian club a less desirable location and forcing them to sell these young stars who have now learnt from their mistakes. It can’t be easy for these guys, coming over from different countries to a difficult league and with a different language, and Sunday’s game was a prime example of those problems. For the second goal, there was a clear lack of communication between any of the defenders, which led to Eder having acres of space in the penalty area to slide under Sirigu. These are easily identifiable problems and there has been a slight improvement in the last few games. They will work hard on the training ground and the fans will be hoping the improvements come soon before too much damage has occurred.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom from the game, the offence showed glimpses of what it is capable of. When Fabrizio Miccoli returns from injury, he should slot in and re-kindle his partnership with Pastore. The passing was sublime on Sunday, constantly putting the Brescia defence under pressure and cutting through the midfield with ease. If it weren’t for a fantastic performance from the goalkeeper Matteo Sereni, the Rosanero would most likely have won this game. There are plenty of goals in this team for this season as they look to develop on last season’s success.
The growing pains of a young team can be a stressful time for all involved in the club, as it is a high-risk high-reward strategy. If Delio Rossi can turn this team into a European placed team, it will surely be the crowning achievement of his career. This season looks like holding a lot of high scoring games – an off-shoot of the Kevin Keegan school of we will score one more goal than you. Sicily will undoubtedly be the scene of many exciting games this season, but fans will be hoping Palermo actually do manage to score more than the defence gives away, to at least partially resemble the winning team of last season.
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