Fresh Beginnings

The time for relaxation is over and the Rosanero are already taking part in the preseason in St. Lambrecht, Austria. Gattuso and his staff have been hard at work to instill the right methods and mindset in the players. Last season was an utter failure, but the preseason is a chance for a fresh beginning.

Now over a week into the preseason, some things are starting to surface about Gattuso’s Palermo. Firstly, Ringhio is motivated. Highly motivated. The kind of motivation and “grinta” that he was known for his entire career has quickly been on display during his short time in charge of the Rosanero. His enthusiasm is infectious. From Zamparini on down to the staff and players, the recurring theme is how much passion and desire Gattuso is bringing to the table. Given his inexperience, perhaps his spirit can make up for some of his other shortcomings. Time and patience will be the true determiner but one thing is sure, the players have quickly formed a strong bond with their coach. Gattuso has made it a point to train hard during practice – whether it’s having everyone run stairs in Zeman-like fashion or making every person who has any role at Palermo (players, coaching staff, medical staff, randoms) take part in post-practice strength and conditioning excercises. Even more so, Gattuso has put himself in the thick of it, often times performing the same drills and methods he’s imposing on his players. That isn’t to say there isn’t any fun going on in the Palermo camp. Far from it. All you need to see is Exhibit A and B.

Meanwhile, the club has added another player to its ranks in Alen Stevanovic. The 22 year old Serbian midfielder joined Palermo from Torino on loan with an option to purchase half of his contract. Alen can play in any of the three midfield positions in Gattuso’s 4-2-3-1 model, but particularly excels on the outside. Since his arrival, he has already played very well in the two friendlies the club has taken part in. Palermo were looking for a midfielder of his quality and after missing out on Steven Zuber, Stevanovic was the target they were after. Of course, any preseason success should be taken with a modicum of caution, but he did play a role in helping Torino get promoted to Serie A a couple seasons ago.

Palermo are not finished in the transfer market. Obviously, with over a month to go before the window shuts, there are still moves to be made, both in and out. Two players rumored to be close to arriving are Siena defender Claudio Terzi and French midfielder Granddi N’Goyi from Troyes, a club that suffered the same fate as Palermo last season, except in France. Neither deal is official, but the buzz has them joining perhaps by week’s end. Outbound, it appears Josip Ilicic is 24-48 hours away from finalizing his move to Fiorentina. It’s been a rather long wait, but then again, there’s no rush since the Slovenian wasn’t called up to preseason training given his pending departure. Ex-Palermo captain Fabrizio Miccoli finally fulfilled his lifelong goal of playing for his hometown club Lecce. The striker signed a one year contract which cut his salary by a million in order to play for the Lega Pro side. Best of luck to him in the hopes that he can restore his image and regain some good standing. Perinetti still must find a home for the increasingly unwanted Emiliano Viviano. After being rejected by his hometown club Fiorentina, the destinations seem sparse; yet, Villareal and Torino have emerged as possible options. Needless to say, Viviano will not be staying at Palermo. The futures of both Abel Hernandez and Stefano Sorrentino are still in the air as both have suitors despite the club’s hope that they remain. It’s something that will most likely drag out until a resolution occurs or the window closes. Such is the nature of the modern game.

Speaking of fresh beginnings, the agent of much-maligned defender Santiago Garcia released some shocking comments in hopes of securing a new beginning for his client. Garcia, who has not reported for the preseason after being given an initial extension, apparently wants out of Palermo. His agent said that Santiago was the subject of much ridicule last season and even had some ultras show up to his house and demand he leave. The agent also did not take kindly to Zamparini’s declarations that Garcia must return to the club and any requests to be sold will be denied. Failure to do so will result in Santiago spending a season watching Palermo games from the stands. Garcia’s agent scoffed at the notion, but the club released an official statement noting the legality of the binding contract the defender has with the Rosanero. It’s always funny how all the players who played a part in Palermo’s relegation feel like they have the right to escape Serie B and play elsewhere. Either they think that or they all need new agents.

Finally, it’s a new start for an old face. Igor Budan is the new team manager at Palermo. He has been taking part in the preseason and is happy to be on staff at the club. Budan recently gave a heartfelt interview to La Repubblica in which he talked about the death of his young daughter Amber, how he got through it with the help of Zamparini and his Palermo teammates, his retirement from the game and some choice words for Gasperini and Lo Monaco after he was sold last January: “Some insinuated that I quit because I never got over it (Amber’s death), but it’s a falsity that I want to deny. I thought I’d finish my career at Palermo and instead it didn’t happen that way. However, I’m happy to have worked with people who have more respect for money than human relationships because it’s the exact opposite of what I want to do. If Lo Monaco and Gasperini work in that way, I can only carry myself in the opposite manner. They came to say that I was Zamparini’s spy.” Looks like just another interesting revelation about Lo Monaco who seemed to have won over Palermo fans without them realizing what was really happening behind the scenes. Admit it, we were all sucked in.