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Monday April 4 2011
Only under Zamparini...

Palermo returned to crisis mode this weekend after a dismal 4-0 derby defeat saw Serse Cosmi's reign end amid a surprise return for Delio Rossi. Rob Paton writes

In a weekend full of interesting results, Palermo's 4-0 thumping at Sicilian rivals Catania threw the Rosanero back into crisis, as Maurizio Zamparini sacked Serse Cosmi and reinstated Delio Rossi, reversing a decision taken five weeks prior.

Palermo's form going into the derby was unimpressive. However, Week 30's surprise 1-0 win over Milan suggested they had turned a corner, as the first time Cosmi's defend and counter-attack tactics had worked. This weekend was the opportunity to follow that up with a psychologically significant result over Catania. In Diego Simeone, Cosmi even faced a Coach who was similarly as uncertain of his strongest XI as he was.

However, focus fell on Cosmi's team selection as Javier Pastore – who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture – and Fabrizio Miccoli were benched in favour of Abel Hernandez and Mauricio Pinilla. The result that followed ended Cosmi's brief spell, with Zamparini citing those decisions as the influencing factor.

Where does this leave Palermo? For Zamparini, Rossi's return only opens up a situation that regardless of the end result, brings his handling of the situation into further disrepute.

Should Rossi fail to improve the situation, it can be pinned on Zamparini's double-management change inside five weeks. Should Rossi turn things around, it would only further incite criticism of Zamparini's decision to originally sack him, and further enrage fans should their previously untenable working relationship deteriorate again. After all, he brings back a Coach he was unable to keep a poor personal relationship with out of the public domain, at the same time as replacing a Coach in Cosmi he had happily described as a long-term appointment.

Such is the feeling between Rossi and Zamparini, and given how their relationship ended last time, it is unlikely any arrangement could extend long term, or even beyond the summer. This raises the question of what purpose his reintroduction serves to a team not in danger of relegation, and most likely out of contention for Europe.

Whilst Zamparini's actions return a popular Coach to his players, they continue a dangerous message to the dressing room of where responsibility lays. Whilst everyone cites the President's meddling as to blame, and the President says it was his Coaches' doing, there is less focus than normal on the players' role in a run of six defeats from seven. Given the Milan showing, their performances in the previous five games and subsequent one at Catania are still of concern, regardless of Coach.

Importantly, whilst Cosmi's decisions were easy to criticise – as Zamparini demonstrated – we were not privy to the full state of affairs. He walked into a disjointed dressing room and it is impossible to tell whether the poor results and strange team selections were purely down to his inability to motivate and focus the players, or their inability to accept Rossi's initial departure with professionalism.

Leaving no-one but Rossi looking good, Zamparini's actions at least now return focus to on-the-pitch matters. However, given the past five weeks, it will be interesting to see how Rossi and Zamparini's relationship fares with tough games against Milan, Roma and Napoli on the horizon.

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