Rel­e­ga­tion fears turn fo­cus on a trig­ger-happy Palermo

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MI­LAN:

Jokes about Mau­r­izio Zam­par­ini’s no­to­ri­ously twitchy trig­ger fin­ger abound, but the prospect of rel­e­ga­tion for Palermo has switched the fo­cus on the Serie A club owner’s pen­chant for sack­ing coaches. Barely 15 games into the sea­son Palermo are on their third coach af­ter Zam­par­ini ap­pointed Eu­ge­nio Corini last week to re­place Roberto De Zerbi, who suc­ceeded Da­vide Bal­lar­dini only two weeks into the cam­paign. Zam­par­ini, a 75-year-old busi­ness­man from Udine, is so notorious in Italy that Twit­ter pranksters quipped this week he was to blame for the down­fall of Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi, who re­signed fol­low­ing a ref­er­en­dum vote.

They posted a pic­ture of a se­ri­ous-look­ing Zam­par­ini with the mes­sage: “It’s not true that Renzi re­signed.

Zam­par­ini sacked him.” For the man who was so un­happy with his team in 2003 he threat­ened to cas­trate the play­ers and use their tes­ti­cles as top­pings in his salad, even sack­ing Renzi is be­yond his reach. But 13 years on from that threat, Palermo, a club that de­vel­oped stars like Andrea Barza­gli (Ju­ven­tus), Javier Pa­s­tore (Paris Saint Ger­main) and Paulo Dy­bala (Ju­ven­tus), are no closer to lift­ing a tro­phy.

In 2011 a Palermo side led by De­lio Rossi beat Parma and AC Mi­lan on their way to the Ital­ian Cup fi­nal at Rome’s Sta­dio Olimpico, where an es­ti­mated 40,000-50,000 Si­cil­ians trav­elled from all over Italy to see hold­ers In­ter Mi­lan win 3-1. Amaz­ingly, their Cup run saw Zam­par­ini sack Rossi fol­low­ing a 7-0 rout by Udi­nese in Fe­bru­ary, only to re­call him a month later when his suc­ces­sor, Serse Cosmi, lost the Si­cil­ian derby against Cata­nia. Months be­fore then, Zam­par­ini had even blasted Rossi for hav­ing “no balls” af­ter a 1-1 draw with 10-man Bari. Corini, hope­fully, has read the small print in his con­tract.

‘36 coaches since 2002’

By rough es­ti­mates he is the 36th ap­point­ment to be made since Zam­par­ini took con­trol in 2002, a tally which in­cludes the coaches, such as Francesco Guidolin (four), Bal­lar­dini (three) and Giuseppe Ia­chini (two), who took the helm, were sacked and re­turned for more pun­ish­ment. Al­though Palermo reg­is­tered a new club record of seven con­sec­u­tive league de­feats un­der De Zerbi, he was sacked fol­low­ing de­feat on penal­ties to Serie B side La Spezia in the fourth round of the Ital­ian Cup.

“I was forced to sack De Zerbi,” Zam­par­ini told Naples-based Ra­dio Kiss Kiss the day af­ter La Spezia set up a juicy last 16 tie with Napoli. “I’d sent him a mes­sage say­ing not to worry about the (up­com­ing) Fiorentina game, and to fo­cus on re­dis­cov­er­ing the team. In­stead, he played the re­serves.” De Zerbi, ac­cord­ing to re­ports, is now at­tempt­ing to sue Zam­par­ini for re­fus­ing to hon­our the pledge of a size­able pay­off in the event of his sack­ing. But Zam­par­ini, who once la­belled English clubs “pirates” for al­legedly pil­lag­ing young play­ers be­fore they had a chance to sign pro­fes­sional con­tracts, re­tal­i­ated in clin­i­cal fash­ion. “I’m sure he did it to get sacked,” Zam­par­ini said of De Zerbi’s team se­lec­tion for Palermo’s doomed Cup tie. “So I will seek ter­mi­na­tion of his con­tract for gross mis­con­duct.”

Corini, a for­mer Palermo captain who helped the Si­cil­ians to the Serie B ti­tle in 2004, was hired thanks to him help­ing turn Chievo’s for­tunes around in one of his first coach­ing spells, al­though Zam­par­ini ad­mit­ted only he and Bal­lar­dini were “on the mar­ket”.

The 46-year-old Corini was sec­onds away from be­gin­ning his spell in charge by end­ing Palermo’s streak of de­feats, un­til Fiorentina striker Khouma Babacar headed a last-gasp goal to se­cure a 2-1 win on Mon­day. Palermo host Chievo tomorrow, but on the day of his ap­point­ment Corini, un­sur­pris­ingly, ad­mit­ted his six­month deal is purely per­for­mance-re­lated. “I have a con­tract un­til the end of the sea­son, and I will only have an ex­ten­sion if we sur­vive (rel­e­ga­tion),” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” — AFP Ital­ian Serie A ta­ble ahead of week­end games (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Ju­ven­tus Roma AC Mi­lan Napoli Lazio Ata­lanta Torino Fiorentina Sam­p­do­ria In­ter Mi­lan Cagliari Genoa Chievo Sas­suolo Bologna Udi­nese Em­poli Pescara Cro­tone Palermo

15 15 15 15 15 15 15 14 15 15 15 13 14 15 14 14 15 15 15 15

12 10 10 8 8 9 7 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 2 1 1 1

0 2 2 4 4 1 4 5 4 3 2 4 3 2 4 3 4 5 3 3

3 3 3 3 3 5 4 3 5 6 7 4 6 8 6 7 9 9 11 11

32 35 27 27 27 24 31 22 19 22 23 17 14 20 14 18 7 12 12 11

13 36 16 32 19 32 15 28 16 28 17 28 19 25 16 23 20 22 21 21 32 20 15 19 16 18 26 17 21 16 23 15 24 10 27 8 29 6 29 6

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