2016-17 review

Serie A Pts P W D L F A
17th 26 38 6 8 24 72 24

Coppa Italia: Fourth Round / Team rating: 2 / Top scorer: Nestorovski (11) / Europe: N/A

Palermo were unable to fix the holes left by constantly changing players, Coaches and even the President, writes Dominic Zenti.

Rosanero self-destruct

Having survived revolutions every year, including by the skin of their teeth last term, Palermo finally bit off more than they could chew. From Edinson Cavani to Paulo Dybala, the Rosanero have always defied the odds to compete in Serie A for at least one more season. Unfortunately for the Sicilians, Franco Vazquez was not adequately replaced following his sale to Sevilla.

This is a club accustomed to chaos, but Davide Ballardini leaving after just two rounds, including a draw away to Inter, got the season off to a bad start even by their standards. Coaches came and went, the squad was almost completely revamped over the January transfer window as well as the summer, and their identity vanished.

To make matters even more confusing, President Maurizio Zamparini sold the club after two decades and 50-odd tacticians, handing over the reins in April to tattoo-infested Italian-American satirical comedian Paul Baccaglini. It was all too much.

Roberto De Zerbi tried and failed to bring exciting football, Eugenio Corini returned to the Stadio Barbera where he had been captain, but lasted only six rounds before walking away. Ex-Cagliari Coach Diego Lopez flew in from Uruguay and tried to steer them back towards safety, but Baccaglini kept Palermo fans in the matter to which they were accustomed by firing him within weeks of buying the club. Caretaker manager Diego Bortoluzzi had a better success rate than any of his predecessors, but that was post-relegation.

Fans protested, especially as they didn’t get to witness a home victory until February 5, squeezing past newly-promoted Crotone 1-0 in Week 23. Perhaps the pressure was too much for them, because two of their total four domestic wins came after relegation had already been sealed. 

The Coach – Davide Ballardini (1-2) / Roberto De Zerbi (3-14) / Eugenio Corini (15-21) / Diego Lopez (22-31) / Diego Bortoluzzi (32-38)

It’s safe to say we cannot sum up all five Coaches in this small section. Palermo often go through these ridiculous campaigns, but this one was a hurdle too far and confirmed tacticians should think twice before accepting the job in Sicily. Bortoluzzi had the best form, averaging 1.33 points per game, but mostly after the pressure was off.

Player of the Year - Ilija Nestorovski

In a rather underwhelming season as a whole for Palermo, forward Ilija Nestorovski proved to be the standout of the summer transfers and subsequently the squad as a whole. His 11 goals and three assists were crucial in prolonging any hopes of survival this campaign and he was the only player to score in double figures.

Highlight – Palermo 2-0 Fiorentina

With survival hopes already hanging by a thread, Palermo hosting juggernauts Fiorentina in the dying weeks of the season looked to be one of the final nails in the coffin towards a nearly guaranteed drop. Despite a heavily favoured Viola side holding 76 per cent possession, they would be held to solely three shots on target, whilst a 32nd-minute goal from Alessandro Diamanti would signal a most unlikely of upsets.

Nightmare – Lazio 6-2 Palermo

One week prior to the upset of Fiorentina, Palermo had the opposite of a defensive masterclass at the Stadio Olimpico in this 6-2 drubbing. The astonishing fact is they were 5-0 down within 26 minutes, Keita Balde Diao scoring a hat-trick in a five-minute spell.

Did You Know?

- Palermo are directly responsible for 40 per cent of manager sackings during the 16-17 season.

- Palermo became the first Serie A side to concede five goals in the opening 26 minutes since Juventus v Fiorentina in 1938.

- The Rosanero conceded three or more goals in 15 different games this term, keeping only four clean sheets.