Over 48 hours have passed since Palermo’s debut match in Serie B against Modena. After leading the at halftime thanks to a goal from Sinisa Andelkovic, old habits carried over lfrom last season with Modena finding an equalizer in the 86th minute. The disappointing tie to start the season has led to many people drawing conclusions.
After an enthusiastic preseason, it must be said that Palermo’s opening game proved to be a disappointment. The Rosanero started off well, controlling the match for much of the opening 45 minutes even if they had few goal-scoring opportunities to show from it. In the second half, Palermo were completely outplayed by the home side, with Modena coming increasingly close to getting a goal. The Canarini’s Andrea Mazzarani proved to be a particularly pesky problem for the Palermo defense. He hit the crossbar twice and forced several saves from Sorrentino. It was no surprise, then, when Mazzarani’s cross in the 86th minute found Surraco who beat Sorrentino with a header from close range.
It is frustrating to see the same kind of mental lapses that haunted the Rosanero last season continue to spill over into this new term. Unlike the match against Hellas Verona, Palermo looked poor almost across the board. Lafferty remained isolated up top, despite being supported by Dybala, Stevanovic and Lores. Bolzoni managed to play decently but his partner in the middle – Armin Bacinovic – was a poor substitute for captain Edgar Barreto. For the most part, the back line was okay in the way it dealt with the physicality of Babacar but they had no answer for the one-on-one problems Mazzarani was causing. Pisano, for all his well-intentioned effort, struggled mightily.
In order for the Sicilians to have success, the top-dog mentality has got to be changed. Palermo will not win promotion simply by expecting to win each match through reputation and namesake. With each opponent chomping at the bit to try and take out the expected leaders, Palermo need to adopt Gattuso’s mentality. Serie B is no cakewalk. These teams need to be showed respect and the matches need to be played as if a spot in the Champions League were on the line. Remember, a slow start leads to a trigger-happy Zamparini who could derail the entire season in one rash decision.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. The club were missing Edgar Barreto in the midfield and Ezequiel Munoz in defense. The duo truly provide a step up in quality in Italy’s second division. Abel Hernandez, the post-game subject of some choice words from Gennaro Gattuso, did not feature simply due to the fact that the Uruguayan has not been practicing with the kind of application and dedication Gattuso expects from a member of the team. Gattuso delivered an ultimatum to the young Uruguayan: Be clear on what your intentions are; if you choose to stay, train like you mean it.
With four days left till the end of the transfer window, there is an unnerving cloud hanging over Palermo and some of its key players. Firstly, the goalkeeping situation is still in stand-by. The club has three starters in its ranks with Ujkani, Sorrentino and the near-forgotten Viviano in Rosanero. Sorrentino has had to deal with daily questions regarding his future and the questions still have no clear answer in sight. The club has insisted on one of Sorrentino and Viviano leaving this window but as of yet no concrete destinations have taken significant steps forward. It would be wise for Perinetti to settle things as soon as possible just to put an end to all the speculation. As previously mentioned, Abel Hernandez could stay just as easily as he could go, no matter what Zamparini’s comments to the media say to the contrary (“Abel is staying at Palermo”). Regardless of whether he stays or goes, the club really needs another option up top. It would be better to add another striker with the risk of him wasting on the bench rather than finding the team in the unfortunate position of lacking alternatives.
It was only one game and Palermo must look toward the home opener against an impressive Empoli side. Even Juventus drew their first match in dull fashion in their season in B. The key is to learn from the tough match and press forward. Now is not the time to jump to conclusions.