‘For Palermo to achieve their goals, they must eradicate mistakes and play with a level of consistency.’ – A statement laid out by this website (Football-Italiano) not so long ago. Now mistakes will happen and blips will occur over the long narrative of the season but the trick is to make sure that they are nothing more than just blips.
Often the most important and defining games in seasons for the top clubs are the games after defeats. Can the Rosanero establish themselves and immediately reverse the trend or will they descend into a slump? This question can only be answered by the players and played out in front of our eyes.
Sunday’s performance against Udinese has been widely criticised but this lambasting does not take into account the highly volatile nature of the opposition. You literally cannot know what you are about to play when you face Udinese, they are the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Calcio. Such talent and charisma can be seen as laziness and inefficiency when not working and genius when they are performing. This result however has placed a lot of prominence on the next fixture this Sunday afternoon against Lazio in Sicily.
Lazio will be a more consistent side and they will also be extremely difficult to defend against. They are currently top the table and after eight rounds they already have eight more points. This test will show how good this team really can be. Whether they can only beat up on the poor and the over-hyped, or whether they actually have the talent to compete with the real challengers.
Unfortunately, with the occurrence of inconsistency still regularly plaguing Palermo’s progress, the job of Delio Rossi will be called into question. Zamparini has a reputation for pulling the trigger quickly, just ask Walter Zenga, but the enigmatic President exclaimed that his man was safe: ‘He is absolutely not at risk, he is good. Perhaps the characteristics of our formation put some players in a difficult situation, but the coach will prove himself’. Now this sounds like the first of the dreaded vote of confidence’s and probably is, but he is the right man for the job.
This is a young team starting to mature under his leadership and have already proven what they are capable of. Decapitating them will only stunt the growth and cause a decline in all areas of play. The mantra of ‘Give Rossi Time’ should be preached. He proved last year that he is the right man for the job, he would not have suddenly become the wrong man only eight games into the season, it’s too small of a sample size.
The President has been very vocal this week and has weighed in on some interesting subjects. The issue of diving has gained serious prominence with Milos Krasic’s antics against Bologna, for which he received a two game ban. Juventus said they would appeal this but Zamparini disagrees with that: ‘It would be right for clubs to punish divers, I would punish my own players because I don’t like it when they dive.’ This seems like it was primarily just a swipe at Juve, something he is very keen to do but also the backing up of a progressive way of thinking. Diving has always had its place in the Italian game due to the history. Referees could often be bought and subsequently the bribed official would favour one team over another. This general mistrust of referees bore the art of diving with players, coaches and fans all accepting that conning the referee was ok as they believed he was probably trying to fix the game anyway. In the professional age, we like to believe that this is not an issue anymore and diving should really be considered as what it is, which is cheating. It is good to see the officials taking a hard nose stance on this, which will hopefully wear off on the players down the line.
Despite Zamparini’s claims that the players are too tired to perform at the moment, they will be much geared up for the arrival of the league leaders. Palermo have always shone under the glare of national attention and the pressure of the ‘calcio giants’, relishing their underdog status.
Expect to see a very committed performance regardless of the result and an undoubted titanic battle on the pitch. This is a hard game to bounce back but probably the best they could wish for as the attention and pressure is just what this team need to once again try and revive the march towards the Champions League.