THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Chairman must learn from past mistakes

icon sack7 October ~ Palermo have collected just three points from a possible 18 so far this season, and coach Giuseppe Iachini is under huge pressure. That may seem harsh considering Palermo are a newly promoted side and the campaign is just six games old, but the track record of the club's notoriously volatile chairman Maurizio Zamparini suggests Iachini's sacking is a real possibility. Since buying Palermo in 2002, he has made 27 managerial appointments, including five in the space of seven months last year and Francesco Guidolin on four separate occasions.

This has inevitably bred a culture of short-termism and insecurity within the club yet, somewhat paradoxically, Palermo have enjoyed the best years of their history under Zamparini, the man known in Italy as the "manager eater".

The Sicilians returned to Serie A in 2004 after a 31-year absence and went on to qualify for the UEFA Cup in three consecutive seasons. With five managers employed over that period, Zamparini's capriciousness was beginning to earn him a reputation even in the infamously inpatient world of Italian football. However, Palermo's on-field record largely shielded the owner from criticism.

It would not be long until Zamparini's approach caught up with him, though. After a couple of mid-table finishes in 2008 and 2009 – a pair of campaigns that witnessed another five changes in the dugout – Delio Rossi was appointed in November 2009. The Rosanero sat 12th in an incredibly tight division, seemingly capable of either relegation or European qualification. It turned out to be the latter, an attractive side containing Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore and Antonio Nocerino sealing another UEFA Cup spot.

A solid start to  2010-11 including wins over Juventus, Fiorentina and Roma suggested that Palermo might be go close to a Champions League qualification but, when Udinese defeated a team reduced nine men in February, Zamparini raged that Rossi "has ruined my Palermo", and sacked him. Zamparini soon regretted his decision and Rossi was enticed back after just four weeks. Things were not the same though, and despite leading Palermo to a Coppa Italia final, Rossi announced he was stepping down; two years later, Palermo were in Serie B.

Palermo have enjoyed great success under the now 73-year-old Zamparini's stewardship, but his impulsiveness has probably prevented the club from reaching the heights they otherwise could have. Giuseppe Iachini will be hoping the manager eater has learnt from his mistakes. Greg Lea

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