So who is on this team anyway?
Obviously, it has been a while since we discussed a Palermo squad in depth. For those who have been watching and those who haven’t, now is as good a time as any to run through the list of staff and players currently battling in Serie C. Let’s start with the new owner and his administration.
- Dario Mirri – a lot is owed to Dario Mirri a lifelong supporter and longtime season ticket holder of Palermo who put up several million euro of his own money to help the club avoid points deductions in that last inglorious season in Serie B before it all fell apart. A businessman, Dario Mirri and his group Hera Hora won the bid from the city to restart the club from the ground up. It was his group that looked like it had a well thought out project and plan already in place when they officially threw their hat into the ring. There were only four official bids, but Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando seems to have made the right choice in awarding the club to Hera Hora. Mirri is quite the contrast to Maurizio Zamparini – he doesn’t talk often and he is a quiet man by nature. Nevertheless, Mirri has openly admitted that his plan is to get Palermo to Serie B and then either sell the club outright or seek additional investment partners. He has not been shy about the fact that he simply does not have the type of financial resources to bring this club back to the glory days. And he made those comments even before the global pandemic threw innumerous wrenches into every club’s financials. Still, he continues to state that the health of the club is good and the books are balanced, as modest as they may be. As we saw in the post-Zamparini era, other “presidents” can easily be magnitudes worse than both Zamparini and Mirri.
- Renzo Castagnini – a longtime figure in Italian calcio. Castagnini was a sporting director for a number of clubs in the ’90s and ’00s: Salernitana (promoted to Serie B under his helm), Catania, Cosenza, Genoa, Vicenza and Piacenza. After his time with Piacenza, he oversaw the Juventus youth sector during a critical three year period in Turin from 2008 to 2010. His last stop before Palermo was at Brescia for a couple years. Now in Sicily, Castagnini has faced escalating and difficult tasks. He passed the first one with flying colors – building a team from scratch a month before the start of the Serie D season! In Serie C, things have been even tougher when you factor in the financial complications from covid-19. He has the trickiest job out of any in assembling a team that can compete for promotion to Serie B.
Ok, now moving onto the positions that “matter”. So, who is the coach? Funny little thing about that. Palermo started the year under Giacomo Filippi who himself was the assistant coach under Roberto Boscaglia the previous season in Serie C. When Filippi took over after Boscaglia was sacked late in the previous campaign, the assistant garnered an impressive response from the team and they managed to qualify for the playoffs and make it several rounds in before being knocked out by Avellino. Under Filippi, two things became apparent. The first was that the team performed inconsistently – great at home, poor on the road. The second involved discipline, or a lack thereof. Palermo had a shocking number of send-offs while Filippi was coach. In fact, they led all of Serie C in the red card category. Call it nerves or recklessness or whatever, but the team had issues keeping all 11 men on the pitch for a full 90 minutes. On Christmas Eve, Palermo owner and chairman Dario Mirrifired Filippi with the Rosanero sitting in 5th place, 11 points behind leaders Bari. Mirri chose Silvio Bandini as the new coach.
- Silvio Bandini – Wait, wait, wait…that name sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It should because Silvio Bandini is indeed the very same Silvio Bandini that Zamparini appointed way back at the start of the 2003-04 Serie B campaign. That was the historic season in which Baldini would be replaced midseason by the legendary Francesco Guidolin who guided the team to promotion to Serie A! So, Silvio Bandini is now the coach and has seven games under his belt. Palermo’s record in that time span is three wins, three draws and one loss. For the most part, the team has been playing better under Baldini but the Rosanero still suffer from extreme home-road splits. Baldini has been using a 4-2-3-1 formation for all but one of the seven matches. The only time he used a three man back line (basically out of necessity due to absences and injuries), Palermo were destroyed by Foggia, 4-1. Expect the 4-2-3-1 to continue being deployed.
- Alberto Pelagotti – the 32 year old has been the unquestioned starter between the posts for the Rosanero since reforming in Serie D. He has been a constant presence over the last two-and-a-half seasons. He did experience a bit of poor form over the past month leading to speculation that he is no longer an unquestioned starter. For now, it appears the job is still solely his.
- Samuele Massolo – he’s 25 years old and seems to be pushing for more starts. He has two appearances on the year in the league- the first was replacing Pelagotti mid-game. The second was his only start against Catanzaro where he kept a clean sheet. In 144 minutes in the league he hasn’t allowed a goal. He did have two full matches under his belt in the Coppa Italia in Serie C where he did allow two goals.
To be continued…