“We are all very worried,” exclaimed Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini earlier this week. “I didn’t think we would be left like this, finding ourselves in this situation. I shall be closer than ever to the team and the Coach.”
It’s the sort of quote that would strike fear into any tactician in European football, but when you’re Gian Piero Gasperini and you’re in charge at the Rosanero, it’s perhaps to be expected.
Reports on Tuesday claimed that the former Genoa man has two more games to save his job at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, having been brought in last September as the man to guide the Sicilian side towards a better, brighter future.
It hasn’t quite worked out like that for the 54-year-old, who has claimed just three wins in his 17 League matches so far. As a result, Palermo currently sit in 19th place in Serie A with matches against Lazio and Cagliari over the next couple of weeks potentially proving the end of his indifferent reign.
It’s a familiar situation for fans of the Aquile who have grown used to, and tired of, the constant tinkering from behind the scenes. Since his takeover of the team in 2002, Zamparini has overseen 25 managerial changes, with the likes of Francesco Guidolin and Stefano Colantuono returning for more than one stint in the dugout.
It’s this never-ending, revolving-door policy which has seen the club reach a nadir of disappointment on the pitch with the threat of relegation looming large over the Sicilians.
At the dawn of the Millennium, the Friuli businessman promised trophies galore and spectacular nights hosting European football. In 11 years, all the club have to show for his investment is a Serie B title win and a Coppa Italia runners-up medal.
Players such as Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani have come and gone, and although the club can’t be blamed for cashing in on their star names, the money received from those transfers can’t fix the incessant turmoil that is eating away at the club.
A new sporting director was brought in this season to try and herald a new age at Palermo, but no matter how many good signings Pietro Lo Monaco makes, what good are they without a solid structure to work within?
The arrivals of Andrea Dossena, Salvatore Aronica and potentially Stefano Sorrentino make perfect sense – dependable pros who have been around the Serie A block. But when they turn up to the Sicilian capital with a Coach they know will be gone in a month or so, it can’t be good for anyone.
Zamparini insists on treating the team like his play-thing, with which he can do whatever he likes. “Gasperini has to stop complaining that the squad is inadequate and we need reinforcements,” he said to La Repubblica. “The squad is not the problem. In my view, this was a good team in the past and today we are working to make it even more competitive.”
Of course, three wins in 20 matches is not a record to boast about. Gasperini has to take some of the blame for what’s been a turgid campaign so far. But with a man constantly behind his back, plotting a future without him, how exactly can the tactician work properly?
Changing Coach hasn’t been the answer in the past, isn’t the answer now and won’t be the answer in the future. Perhaps it’s time, after just over a decade as King-maker, that Zamparini cuts his losses and looks for a new buyer at Palermo. For the good of the club.