“I’ve got a scoop for you – I’ll be the Coach next season!” announced Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini to a bemused group of journalists, as he confirmed that current boss Bortolo Mutti would be leaving. “It will be the novelty of 2012-13!”
Unfortunately for Palermo’s fans, their side’s performances this term have been the novelty. The Rosanero finished two places above the relegation zone, after beginning the campaign in the Europa League. The problem on the pitch lies mainly in defence, as they conceded 62 goals. Only relegated Novara (65) and controversy congested Genoa (69) let in more.
Matters off the pitch have marred Palermo’s season above all else. Mutti was quick to underline what he thinks is holding the club back shortly after his dismissal. “Zamparini is a crucial figure for Palermo and someone you can work with if he wants to, but this year the club’s infrastructure was not up to the task.”
Zamparini’s short temper and refusal to accept defeat of any kind has ultimately led to the Sicilian side’s downfall. He’s struggled to find a man he sees eye to eye with, as six Coaches have been and gone in just over a year. Men such as Francesco Guidolin and Stefano Pioli have gone on to have successful spells with clubs much higher up the Division than Palermo.
Despite Zamparini’s misguided management over the past few years, the unlikely source of punishment from the Italian FA may change Palermo’s fate. Zamparini was banned by the FIGC from all transfer activity for a year in April, due to irregularities with the sale of Javier Pastore to Paris Sant-Germain. The suspension is largely symbolic as the owner still has an unofficial final say on transfers. However, the 70-year-old cannot be seen to be directly involved in dealings.
Zamparini has realised he must take a step back from the limelight, as his constant dealings with the media fuel unnecessary speculation around the club. He must also allow officials to deal with day-to-day matters.
In light of this he appointed Giorgio Perinetti as the club’s new executive Vice-President a week after the ban was issued. Perinetti is a seasoned official, who has already worked at the likes of Juventus, Napoli and Roma. He had a stint at Palermo before, early on in Zamparini’s reign, where they’d managed to get the club promoted from Serie B. More recently he has done wonders at Siena. Under his guidance they were promoted to Serie A in his first season and established themselves by finishing fourteenth this term.
Siena Coach Giuseppe Sannino has also announced that he will be joining Palermo. Zamparini himself had confirmed the deal a week prior, but it was the first time the Coach himself broke his silence on the matter. Sannino worked alongside Perinetti as boss to keep Siena in Serie A in their first season back. Many had doubted the club’s ability to stay up after Coach Antonio Conte left for Juventus. However, Sannino has quickly gained a reputation as a tactician who gets the best out of players with limited resources. He famously piloted Varese from the Italian Fourth Division to Serie B, before narrowly missing out in the play-off semi-finals to get into Serie A last year.
Sannino and Perinetti have proven quality and strong characters. Both were linked to clubs much bigger than Palermo throughout the year. Zamparini has already specified that he will not interfere with the decisions of the Coach or directors. Instead he wants a “new era” to begin at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
Zamparini may just have finally taken a small step back as President of Palermo. The real question is whether he lives up to his promise and gives his new technical team the time to build that he couldn’t afford to others.