Parma have maintained their Serie A status for yet another year, after a scrappy end to the 2010-11 season. It was not a season to remember however, as the club was staving off relegation for most of the campaign.
The Gialloblu finished in 8th place last season, giving fans reason to believe a monumental campaign was on the cards. Following the departure of Coach Francesco Guidolin, acclaimed tactician Pasquale Marino was appointed as manager in June 2010.
Expectations went through the roof as management fortified the squad throughout the summer with a string of permanent and loan signings. Former loanee Valeri Bojinov was signed on a permanent basis from Manchester City, along with highly rated central defender Gabriel Paletta from Boca Juniors. On top of that, midfielder Sebastian Giovinco and versatile midfielder/defender Massimo Gobbi were signed on season-long loans. Parma capped off an excellent transfer window by acquiring the talented Italian youngster Antonio Candreva on loan from Udinese for the season.
After an optimistic summer the team started the season very slowly, winning one game out of their first ten. During this terrible run of form, the Gialloblu were stuck in the relegation zone for five weeks straight. To compound the team’s dismal form, midfield visionary Daniele Galloppa was ruled out injured for five months.
Much to the dismay of the fans, the team’s bad form continued through the end of 2010. Rumors of Pasquale Marino’s sacking began to intensify, even as club President Tommaso Ghirardi publicly backed the troubled tactician. One thing was clear, the team needed to fortify the depth of their lineup with a few winter signings. Again, club management pulled off a coup in the transfer window, acquiring Juventus hitman Amauri on loan for the rest of the season, plus experienced full-back/winger Francesco Modesto and lively striker Raffaele Palladino on permanent deals.
The winter signings paid dividends immediately, as Parma started off 2011 perfectly by dispatching of Juventus 4-1, with new signing Palladino and Juve loanee Giovinco scoring in the win. However an eight game winless streak made the threat of relegation a very real possibility and following a 2-1 loss to Bari, Coach Pasquale Marino was sacked and replaced by experienced Italian Franco Colomba. At the time, the Gialloblu hovered a mere two points above the relegation zone.
The change of managers proved vital for survival, as Colomba’s appointment resulted in an excellent run of form in the remaining seven games. Though his reign began with loss to Lazio, they registered a historic 2-0 victory over a hungry Inter side, with Giovinco and Amauri scoring. Amauri again validated his signing the following week against Champions League hopefuls Udinese, scoring two goals in a tremendous win away from home.
After a few more weeks of positive results, Parma achieved Serie A safety with two matches remaining by drawing with rivals Bologna. Flying off this high, I Crociati celebrated their safety in style by again dispatching of Juventus, this time 1-0, with Sebastian Giovinco scoring against his parent club and consequently hurting their European ambitions.
A gutsy final two months pushed Parma up the table where they ultimately ended the campaign in 12th place. Much praise goes to Franco Colomba, who turned a highly negative season into a series of triumphs that maintained Parma’s Serie A status.
Coach – Pasquale Marino: Marino had a very disappointing tenure with Parma. After the initial optimism of his hiring, he had a torrid time motivating his team. As the Gialloblu slipped deeper down the table, Marino could not seem to elevate the squad’s low self-esteem and turn the results around. He simply did not seem to be the right fit for I Crociati and was relieved of his duties with seven rounds remaining.
Player of the season – Sebastian Giovinco: Juventus loan signing Sebastian Giovinco is once again Parma’s player of the season. Just as in year’s passed, the Atomic Ant guided the Gialloblu to safety and rose to the occasion during big games towards the end of the season, mainly against parent club Juventus and Inter. Scoring seven goals and assisting on three others, Giovinco drove his side up the table and away from the relegation zone.
Turning Point – The hiring of Franco Colomba: Following the appointment of Franco Colomba, Parma lost only once in their last seven games. His motivation of the side was paramount and absolutely critical, as I Crociati were close to demotion at the time of his hiring. Colomba navigated Parma away from the relegation zone with stirring wins over top teams Inter, Udinese, Palermo, and Juventus.
Average starting XI:
Zaccardo – Paletta – Lucarelli – Gobbi
Valiani – Džemaili – Morrone
Giovinco – Crespo – Candreva