Coppa Italia: Third Round / Team rating: 6 / Top scorer: Dybala (13)
A sputtering start to the season threatened to derail Palermo’s campaign, but a glittering mid-season run led to a comfortable mid-table finish, writes Lorenzo Vicini.
Palermo entered the 2014-15 season celebrating their return to Serie A after a one year absence while seeking to ensure safety in the top flight.
Coach Beppe Iachini was given an opportunity to prove to President Maurizio Zamparini that he was more than just a “promotion winning coach”. Most of the record-breaking squad from the previous season returned with the exception of strikers Abel Hernandez and Kyle Lafferty. Their departures placed the burden of goalscoring onto the shoulders of Paulo Dybala, Franco Vazquez and Andrea Belotti.
It was a haphazard start for the Rosanero as the club sat in the relegation zone after six matches on three points. Back-to-back losses to Lazio and Empoli by a combined score of 7-0 seriously threatened to end Iachini’s run as Palermo Coach. Yet, Zamparini exhibited what was - for him - an incredible amount of patience by not pulling the trigger and it would pay off.
Were it not for Giancarlo Gonzalez’s last-gasp winner against Cesena the following week, Iachini would have been out for good. After losing to Juventus a match later, Palermo embarked on a scintillating run of nine games unbeaten –a club record –and pushed the Rosanero into the conversation for a spot in Europe.
During this run, Paulo Dybala shone with his enthralling style of play and superb goals raising his stock considerably. His teammate Franco Vazquez was also instrumental in the Rosanero’s success, setting up Dybala for many of his goals and earning an Italy call-up.
Iachini got the most out of his squad, despite battling injuries. Stefano Sorrentino provided veteran leadership and vital saves in goal while defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Roberto Vitiello helped make Ezequiel Munoz’s departure on loan to Sampdoria an afterthought. Midfielder Luca Rigoni proved a superb signing, notching a career-best nine goals on the year.
Of course, the story of the year belonged to the duo up top in Paulo Dybala and Franco Vazquez. The incredible relationship the two shared was evident on the pitch as both players seemed sentient to each other’s whereabouts on the pitch. Both would end the season on double-digit goals and assists.
Ultimately, Palermo’s run for a spot in Europe would end short and several weeks early, but the club was able to stave off any concern of relegation and cap off a comfortable season mid-table with an eye towards the future.
The hat-wearing tactician achieved something which only Francesco Guidolin before him had managed under Maurizio Zamparini - he lasted the entire season from start to finish. All in all, Iachini proved to be a wonderful complement to Zamparini’s fiery ways while also achieving excellent results on the pitch in his second season with the club. By guiding Palermo to a comfortable finish, he’s been confirmed on the bench for an unprecedented third season.
This was the season Paulo Dybala became a household name. The young Argentine was simply electric and inspiring all year long. Dybala led the team in goals  and also became the first player in Serie A to notch double digit goals and assists . His stellar performances earned him a transfer to Juventus for next season.
- Palermo had two of the three players in Serie A to have double-digit goals and assists in Paulo Dybala (13 goals, 10 assists) and Franco Vazquez (10 goals, 11 assists). The other to achieve that feat was Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi (15 goals, 10 assists).
- Coach Beppe Iachini is only the second manager to last an entire season at Palermo –start to finish –without being sacked by President Maurizio Zamparini. The other was Francesco Guidolin in Palermo’s first season back in Serie A in 2004-05.
- Palermo set a team record in Serie A this season by obtaining nine straight positive results from week nine to week 17, beating their previous best of seven positive results set in the 2009-10 season.
|19||D||Claudio Terzi||14 (1)||-||-|
|7||D||Achraf Lazaar||27 (2)||2||3|
|33||D||Fabio Daprela'||11 (11)||-||-|
|13||D||Emerson Palmieri||0 (9)||-||-|
|3||D||Andrea Rispoli||9 (6)||-||1|
|2||D||Roberto Vitiello||17 (2)||1||-|
|-||M||Granddi N'Goyi||0 (5)||-||-|
|15||M||Francesco Bolzoni||12 (11)||-||-|
|18||M||Ivaylo Chochev||13 (5)||3||-|
|21||M||Robin Quaison||8 (11)||2||1|
|14||M||Francesco Della Rocca||1 (4)||-||-|
|28||M||Mato Jajalo||14 (2)||1||1|
|25||M||Enzo Maresca||14 (5)||-||-|
|96||A||Accursio Bentivegna||0 (3)||-||-|
|99||A||Andrea Belotti||9 (29)||6||2|
|11||A||Simon Makienok||0 (4)||-||-|
|10||A||Joao Silva||0 (1)||-||-|
|-||A||Antonio La Gumina||0 (1)||-||-|