The ambitious nature of Gennaro Gattuso proved to be too much too soon in the unstable environment in Palermo. Lorenzo Vicini explains.
“It’s with true and deep regret that I inform you that I’ve relieved Gennaro Gattuso of his duties as Coach of the senior team. I regret it because of the esteem I have for the man Gattuso and his great work ethic. However, he and I, together, we maybe took too big a step for his first experience as a Coach in a club and place as demanding as Palermo.”
And with those official words, Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini signalled the end of the Gattuso Era in Sicily. Gattuso’s final line at Palermo reads as follows: Six games, two wins, one draw, three losses with an additional win and loss occurring in the Coppa Italia. For a team that is expecting an immediate return to Serie A, the sluggish start in Serie B was simply unacceptable.
Of course, any Coach under Zamparini – no matter how experienced or inexperienced – is almost assuredly going to find their time short-lived. Yet, was Gattuso given a raw deal? Should the Palermo patron have exercised at least a modicum of unexpected patience for his young tactician?
When Gattuso accepted the Palermo post, it was a surprise move that raised many eyebrows and restored some much needed enthusiasm in the Sicilian capital. While Gattuso’s passion and love for the game was never in question, his technical acumen was the subject of much debate. During his illustrious career at Milan, the fearless midfielder on the pitch studied the game off it. He’d frequently speak to his Coaches about tactics and formations and even pointed out players the club should target. Yet, when he transitioned over to a coaching role at Sion, his handful of games at the helm produced mediocre results. Perhaps, though, that could be attributed to his role as player-Coach – too many things for one man to handle in the modern game.
So, as Gattuso began his professional coaching career in Italy, the Rosanero club management set out to provide him with a formidable team capable of winning promotion back to the top flight. With a solid supporting cast, Gattuso had what he needed to be able to achieve the club’s objectives.
In terms of uniting his players, Gattuso proved to be exceptional. During the pre-season and into the actual season, Ringhio formed a solid bond that created a cohesive group among the players. It was apparent to see, with his players knowing when to joke around and when to focus on the task at hand. On a personal level, everybody was on the same page with the Palermo boss.
Yet, as the matches unfolded, things played out differently for Gattuso. His side lacked a style of play. Given an entirely new group of players, it would take time to find the right rhythm and organisation needed on the pitch. But, the reality was Gattuso’s tactical and technical choices seemed haphazard at best. Nobody was expecting a beautiful, free-flowing football to arrive – especially in the rigorous nature of Serie B. However, some semblance of ideas and creativity should have been instilled amongst the group. Instead, even in the club’s two wins, the play was too disjointed to provide hope for the future.
And so, Gattuso became another number in Zamparini’s long list of Coaches. Early on in his tenure, Gattuso spoke of an ambition to follow in the footsteps of Juventus boss Antonio Conte. Well, Gattuso is off to a good start considering even the great Conte was sacked from his first job with Arezzo, in Serie B no less.
The Milan legend has the passion and character to become a great Coach one day. He already has one half of the equation settled in knowing how to assemble and unite his players. Now, he needs to round out the other half, by learning more about the technical and tactical aspects of the game.
It is apparent that Gattuso’s first step as a Coach in Italy was rather a leap too large for the hot seat in Sicily. He shouldn’t be blamed though, as Zamparini never should have appointed such a gamble in the first place. As Rino now returns to Coverciano to earn another coaching licence, one thing is certain – it will not be the last time we see Gattuso on the touchline.