A season of much promise and expectation comes to a rather whimpering end for Palermo in the Coppa Italia final against Inter this coming Sunday. They will be in the Europa League next year, they finished in a respectable eighth spot, but things could have been much more different.
When the season got underway last September, the peninsula was transfixed by the Rosanero’s oft-sublime playing style. Javier Pastore started off brilliantly and it looked as if this would be the Argentine’s breakthrough season. The club had also unearthed another gem in Slovenian Josip Iličić and a brilliant midfielder in his compatriot Armin Bačinović. The two youngsters helped Palermo overcome the absence of Fabrizio Miccoli who was out since the end of the previous season. The results were not spectacular but their approach to the game was generally admired. In February, the Rosanero were in fifth and only a couple of points away from a Champions League spot.
However, things went southward from there as a poor run of results including a 7-0 thumping at the hands of Udinese at home saw the club’s temperamental President Maurizio Zamparini fire Coach Delio Rossi. His replacement was even more shocking in the form of Serse Cosmi. As widely predicted, Cosmi’s term in Sicily only plunged Palermo into further crisis as they accumulated three losses in his four games, leading Zampa to recall Rossi until the end of the season. Rossi’s second coming was the boost that the team needed, and apart from a crazy 2-2 draw at Cesena, the team acquitted itself extremely well under him.
Victories over Roma and Napoli were complemented with defeating Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and the season ended with four victories in their six games. The Coppa Italia provides the Rosanero with a chance to end the year with their first-ever major trophy, but Inter will be motivated themselves to capture the prize after a disappointing season by their high standards. Win or not, a trip to the Olimpico will be well-earned for the players.
The lesson from the Rosanero season is a simple one in effect being the team’s need for more stability and a sustainable developmental plan. The players at Palermo’s disposal are all highly talented and it is their youthfulness that often made the Rosanero a dangerous unit. A more carefully planned transfer campaign that could add experience to the team will greatly increase their chances of continuing to rub shoulders with the big boys next season. Seven weeks played chaos on their season, this year if Rossi is convinced to stay and the club keep hold of Pastore, they are very much capable of being next year’s Udinese.
Coach – Delio Rossi:
His future at the club remains uncertain and despite his great achievement with the club, defence is an area that he needs to look into. The team is certainly equipped to play some beautiful football but it needs to be complemented with the right results to make them a force to be reckoned with.
Player of the season:
Federico Balzaretti The Italian had a stellar season at the Rosanero which earned him a call up to La Nazionale. His bombarding runs on the left gave the team another dimension and made life difficult for all opponents, finishing on top of the assists charts for the club.
Turning point – Palermo 2-4 Fiorentina
The Sicilians’ season unravelled from here into a giddy downward spiral. They went up 1-0 and 2-1 before a second-half defensive collapse saw them concede thrice. The team was rattled and Zamparini went berserk.
Average starting XI:
Cassani – Muñoz – Bovo – Balzaretti
Migliaccio – Bačinović – Nocerino
Iličić – Pastore