“Rossi has a 1% chance of staying with the Rosanero if you want to try and bet. A team destroyed and ruined my Palermo. Rossi has destroyed this team.” And with that exclamation, President Maurizio Zamparini finally did as was expected and concluded the yo-yoing love-hate relationship between President and Coach – a Coach he has coveted since as early as 2006 and a tactician whose brilliant tactics allowed the fans to dream.
Delio Rossi, as the fans put it so eloquently in their open letter to the President, “is the right man to further this project based on young talent”. Under his tutelage, Palermo finished last season with 65 points – the highest number of points the club has registered since their return to the top flight and this was achieved despite having arrived 13 games into the season. As well as adopting a stunning brand of attacking football, he has abided by the rules of the club’s project by cultivating youth and launching stars such as Josep Ilicic and Javier Pastore and even managed stunning victories against giants such as Juventus and Milan. Last season’s seven consecutive home wins and fourth best attack in Serie A took them within two points of a place in the Champions League.
Despite the brilliant work of last season in changing the fortunes of the Sicilian side, Zamparini’s anger began to take over and within the first month of the current season, snide remarks were being thrown around to undermine the work of the Tactician. After a Europa League loss to Sparta Prague, Zamparini’s angrily exclaimed: “Rossi must say that he got it wrong otherwise he will be at risk as well!” And so began the tumultuous relationship.
Zamparini’s back and forth comments ranging from “Our Coach has no balls” in December 2010 to “he is one of the best Coaches in Italy,” not only threatened the development of a team but also added pressure on a Coach who began to question his future. At a time when the squad felt vilified by the referees for poor decisions that the President himself publically spoke out about, Rossi continued to perform admirably despite the harsh words of his President and the squad’s low morale.
Yet the only person Zamparini can really blame for Palermo’s inability to reach the top four is himself. Whilst he continues to bemoan the fragility of the defence, he really ought to take a good look at the back-line and how his failure to invest in it has hampered Palermo’s season. Rossi cannot be blamed for the failure to replace the talent of Simon Kjaer, a poor centre-back pairing and a defence entirely reliant on their first choice full-backs who have been missing in action recently due to either injury or suspension. The Coach requested experience to balance the squad yet his request went unfulfilled as the President felt it went against the project put in place.
Whilst the strategy Zamparini has deployed at the club sees them nurture cheap youth in order to sell them off for a profit has successfully earned them money and prestige, it is also one that will hinder their objective of finishing in the top four. A healthy mix of experienced veterans and young talent are required to create a Scudetto chasing team and with Zamparini’s obsession with flipping players for a profit, a Champions League place will always be a just a dream. Meanwhile Palermo welcome yet another Coach in the middle of a season who up until Sunday was going seemingly well.