On September 12, Palermo patron Maurizio Zamparini declared Devis Mangia to be “like Wenger” and emphasized that the young coach would be like the legendary Arsenal manager, staying with the Rosanero for the long haul. Even four days ago, as back to back losses had seen the club lose at home for the first time all season, followed by an unexpected exit from the Coppa Italia, Zamparini assured those questioning him that Mangia’s position was stable. A day after Palermo’s lackluster and spineless 2-0 loss to Catania at the Massimino and Zamparini has had a change of heart. Devis Mangia becomes the latest to fall on the sword for the team’s woes.
Zamparini has not yet spoken about his decision to remove Mangia from the mix but it’s clear that he’ll place the blame on everyone’s shoulders but his own. Palermo will now have its fifth coach in the last five months (Delio Rossi, Cosmi, Pioli, Mangia) and all signs are pointing to an old, ex-coach with no positive qualities of which to boast in Bortolo Mutti. The Rosanero say goodbye to a young coach bursting with potential who had to make due with the cards he had been dealt. Mangia had everything that Zamparini claimed he wanted from a coach. He was open with the president, talked with him frequently and informed him of decisions he was going to make. Furthermore, Mangia was respected amongst the squad. He brought an enthusiasm that was void during the Pioli experiment and ultimately it was the grinta of Devis that slowly brought Palermo supporters back to the Barbera.
Did Mangia have faults? Yes, he certainly did. But what 37 year old coach taking over his first major club wouldn’t? He compiled an impressive six wins out of seven at the Renzo Barbera. On the road, his team suffered greatly, managing only two draws and six defeats from eight games. Yet, of those defeats five came against the likes of Milan, Juventus, Roma, Udinese and a Catania side that has been dominant at home against the Rosanero in recent history. Furthermore, many times Mangia was forced to use a makeshift attacking force due to injuries up top.
Zamparini did his best to dismantle a great team over the summer. The club lost the most talented player they have ever had in Javier Pastore – but that could be expected. What wasn’t expected and shouldn’t have happened were the losses of Salvatore Sirigu and Antonio Nocerino for prices so low even Lumezzane could have made a bid. The breaking point arrived before those sales obviously, as the falling out with Delio Rossi made no sense whatsoever unless it’s taken into account that Zamparini could have been jealous of the affection the beloved Delio was receiving. And so, Maurizio pressed forward, assembling a new team and a new project with a new coach and a new sporting director. In came Pioli and the new Sabatini in Sean Sogliano. Yet, Pioli didn’t even make it to the start of the season before he received the axe and Sogliano managed to hold on just long enough to see Mangia instated as the Palermo boss before he shortly thereafter resigned due to the difficulty of working with a man like Zamparini.
Now, the Rosanero will have to move forward again. Any talk of a project is utter nonsense as it has been apparent for some time that the only project Zamparini believes in is the one that constantly changes courses in his head. The club had a chance to taste real success. The story of Napoli is the one that Palermo should have been had it had a rational man at the top who had enough reason and will-power to stay the course in spite of a defeat or two. Yet, Palermo is Palermo and this is just the umpteenth reason why the colors of pink and black mirror the happenings of this club. It is truly the sweet and the bitter.