Palermo: The promotion push

Being a fan of Sicilian side Palermo over the last ten years will certainly have been an eventful experience, with the club’s faithful experiencing highs and lows, countless controversies and an ever-revolving door of managers and players.

The majority of the events surrounding the club have been tied in with outspoken club president Maurizio Zamparini, who has become something of a cult figure for followers of the Italian game.

Synonymous with outrageous comments, the president’s countless hilarious sound bites include calling the English ‘pirates’, threatening to cut off his players’ testicles and stating a certain referee should ‘go to prison.’

Zamparini is also known for his short fuse. This is proven by the fact that the club supremo has dispatched an unprecedented 28 managers in his eleven-year tenure at the club.

After nine seasons in Serie A, Palermo finished 18th last term and were duly relegated to the second tier of Italian football.

Their stint in Serie A had some memorable moments. Palermo qualified for the UEFA Cup/Europa League on five occasions and were runners-up in the Coppa Italia in 2010-11.

International players to have graced their iconic pink home strip include Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore, Andrea Barzagli and Antonio Nocerino, with the club becoming known for their attacking brand of football.

Rino Gattuso and Maurizio ZampariniRelegation to Serie B saw the surprise appointment of former Italy international Gennaro Gattuso as the club’s manager, but the midfield enforcer became Zamparini’s 28th casualty after only six games in charge.

Giuseppe Iachini is the man in the hotseat currently, and will be under no misconceptions about his margin for error.

Despite a host of the club’s most prominent players departing after last season’s demotion, a number of exciting talents remain on the books – charged with taking the Sicilian club back to the big stage at the first time of asking.

A shock 2-1 home defeat to Latina at the weekend sees the Stadio Renzo Barbera outfit in third place at the time of writing, in a tight race for the all-important top spots.

Of the current crop, Uruguayan striker Abel Hernández is arguably the most gifted and recognised player at Iachini’s disposal.

The South American forward has been on the club’s books since 2009, and has shown sufficient promise to induce regular transfer rumours over moves to pastures brighter.

The 23-year-old has never been ruthless at the top level of Italian football, with his best return of eight goals in all competitions coming in 2010-11.

However, the star has already beaten this tally in Serie B, as he has netted nine goals in eleven appearances for the Rosanero this term.

Other notable players in the Palermo squad include Slovenian midfielder Armin Bačinović, Northern Irish striker Kyle Lafferty and Argentine defender Ezequiel Muñoz.

Amongst the blend of experience and youth, homegrown and foreign players, a wildcard exists.

Many were shocked when Argentine wonderkid Paulo Dybala opted to move to Sicily last summer, with some of Europe’s top clubs linked with the prodigious attacker.

Compared to Sergio Agüero and becoming a YouTube sensation after breathtaking performances for Instituto, Dybala was tipped to become a superstar in Italy.

One year on and the newly turned 20-year-old has seen his stock drop considerably. Dybala has only scored three goals in his time in Europe, and failed to live up to his reputation and potential.

This season in 13 starts for the club he has failed to score. Yet another shock at the Sicilian club given his immense talent.

Palermo look set to be in the mix for promotion back to Serie A this term, and most of the Italian top flight would welcome them back with open arms; it’s a bit boring without them.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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