Welcome to the danger zone. What’s the danger zone look like? Well, it looks a lot like the performance, or lack thereof, that Palermo gave against Napoli on Sunday. While it was truly “mission impossible”, it definitely didn’t mean to play without dignity or urgency. After the heartbreak against Parma, it looked like nobody in Rosanero really bothered to play at the San Paolo. The games are coming and going and Palermo are still stuck on 15 points.
Obviously, nobody was expecting a win against this high-flying Napoli side but Palermo’s effort was pathetic. A team that is trying to stay in Serie A needs to show more desperation and hunger. It’s the trying times like these that show which players have what it takes and which ones should be sent packing. If we used Sunday’s game as a test, 80% of the team would have failed. Gasperini had done a good job of getting the squad to play well, but he needs to light a fire under these players to prepare them for the long haul. That is all that needs to be said about what transpired on Sunday.
In reality, a loss to Napoli changes nothing. The local media outlets and fans are almost overreacting to this match. The truth is that salvation doesn’t come with games against Napoli or next week’s against Lazio. The season is made or broken in the stretch of games against direct competitors: at Cagliari, Atalanta, Pescara, at Chievo, Genoa, at Torino and home against Siena. There are 21 vital points at stake in those seven matches. Yes, Palermo cannot forget about Lazio, but realistically, the seven games after this weekend will tell the story of 2012-13. Where does Palermo go from here?
As the losses continue to pile up, the pressure is mounting on the players, coaching staff and club management. The biggest issue is the need to intervene in the transfer window. As it stands right now, Palermo has too many holes that need fixing. They are not the worst team in Serie A talent-wise. They aren’t even the second or third worst, to be honest. Yet, the way the first half went, misfortune and all, means the Rosanero cannot simply hope for a better second half. Palermo needs some serious intervention in the transfer market in order to create a team that is capable of achieving safety without relying on some good luck to come their way.
The problem is the January transfer window is never easy. Lo Monaco has had several deals in the works, only to see them fall through after a weekend’s round of games. Ciro Immobile was promised to Palermo via a verbal agreement with Preziosi. Then, he went out and scored a critical goal for Genoa that resulted in him being pulled from the market. The same goes for his teammate Marco Borriello, who bagged a brace. Diego Buonanotte was enthusiastic about joining Palermo but had to wait for the final approval from his coach. Naturally, the Malaga coach gave him a start in a domestic cup match and the Argentine proceeded to score two goals. He was on the pitch last weekend and scored once again with a lovely free kick. On Monday, Malaga’s dS stated the team has no intention to sell him this January. And then there’s Sorrentino and those nefarious highway robbers at Chievo. The Rosanero have tried for almost two years to sign the 33 year old goalkeeper and at every attempt, they’ve been spurned by Sartori’s ludicrous demands. The current Palermo offer for the veteran keeper is almost 2 million over his market value; yet, Sartori has once again asked for more.
Where does Lo Monaco go from here? Seemingly, every deal has been met with great resistance after initial proceedings. Time is short. There are just over two weeks left in the January window and Palermo still need to make at least one key signing in the midfield and in the attack. The Sicilian destination is becoming less appealing with each loss and slide down the table. Yet, with all the bad that is occurring, Zamparini has surprisingly been optimistic and let Lo Monaco work. The fate of Palermo rests in his hands.