Palermo finally got the monkey off its back with a revitalizing 3-0 win on the road against Padova. It isn’t quite known who needed the victory more: Gattuso or his players. In reality, the answer is both. The club’s first victory in Serie B this season has given everyone a much-needed morale boost while easing some of the pressure that has been looming since the summer.
With his job potentially on the line, Gattuso opted for a change. Gone went the preferred 4-2-3-1 in favor of a 4-3-1-2 with ex-Milan product and former teammate Davide Di Gennaro getting the start at trequartista. Also getting his first start of the season was local boy Giulio Sanseverino who supported Bolzoni in the middle and Stevanovic on the other side of the ex-Siena man. Meanwhile, Dybala and Abel Hernandez formed the striking duo up top. Ezequiel Munoz also made his Serie B debut (he had been injured and not match-fit) and captained the team while Barreto was able to make the bench.
Gattuso’s tactical choices worked out very well. Di Gennaro scored the game’s opener after a lovely assist from Abel Hernandez and followed up his goal by winning a penalty, which Abel then converted for the 2-0. After going down to 10 men for the second straight game with just under 20 minutes left (thanks to a terrible refereeing decision that got Troianiello sent off after only 8 minutes), there was a slight concern that Padova would take advantage of the numerical superiority. Yet, the Rosanero were able to hold out and caught the Biancoscudati on a counter attack in the game’s final minute thru an excellent team play that ended with Abel Hernandez scoring his second of the match. The final whistle sounded and Palermo erased the previous disappointing results with one resounding victory.
Davide Di Gennaro had a terrific game, rewarding Gattuso for the faith he showed in him. The 25-year-old is at a point in his career where he can really take off if given the opportunity. Coming off two good years, first with Modena and then with Spezia, Di Gennaro is now in an environment that can truly put him in the spotlight. He is more adapt at playing the trequartista role than Dybala is, especially from an experience point of view. It’ll be interesting to see whether Gattuso continues with Di Gennaro regardless of the formation used. After Sunday’s showing, Di Gennaro is definitely worthy of another start.
Abel Hernandez. My how a couple of goals can change things from the player’s perspective and the fans’ perspective. Goals solve problems. The transfer demands seem like a distant memory and he truly looked inspired on Sunday. He now has three goals in two games and is tied atop the league’s scoring chart. The brace was his fourth with the senior team and fifth if you count the one he scored while with the Palermo Primavera. A healthy Hernandez has the potential to be absolutely devastating in Serie B. Gattuso believes he can even score 30 goals. Perhaps the club’s biggest success this offseason was holding onto the young Uruguayan. And by the way, Abel Hernandez can dance the cumbia whenever he’d like, let’s just make sure Stefano Sorrentino never attempts it again.
Remember, Gattuso still has not had the luxury of having a squad at full strength. Edgar Barreto confirmed himself that he’s not 100% just yet and Francesco Bolzoni is nearing full fitness as well. The return of Munoz is a boost to the defense and it was evident on Sunday. It’ll be easier to make better judgments when Gattuso’s first choice XI is trotted out on a weekly basis.
Now, it’s full steam ahead with Cesena in a couple days. Palermo sit on four points while the Seahorses are in third place with six. The Rosanero will look to build on this performance and keep climbing up the table.