x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Serie A: Revolving door for coaches keeps spinning at Palermo

In his second coaching stint this season at Palermo, Giuseppe Sannino wants to avoid relegation and another pink slip, writes Ian Hawkey.

Giuseppe Sannino was just reappointed as Palermo coach, which was the club's 21st change at coach in the last nine years. Maurizio Lagana / Getty Images
Giuseppe Sannino was just reappointed as Palermo coach, which was the club's 21st change at coach in the last nine years. Maurizio Lagana / Getty Images

Giuseppe Sannino made a spiky observation after he was dismissed as the head coach by Palermo in September.

Landlords in Sicily saw his type coming, he joked. "Profession?" they would ask of middle-aged men applying to rent villas or apartments in the island's regional capital.

When they heard the answer, "New head coach of Palermo football club," owners would look alarmed, and point out the standard rental contract is for a full year.

Sannino was reappointed yesterday as Palermo's head coach. If he is lucky, he will have until the end of the season to concentrate on trying to lift the club off the foot of Serie A.

If he is very lucky indeed, he will find the right formula to elevate them the three places they need to rise to avoid relegation, and make up – over 10 matches – a gap that now stands, after the weekend's 2-1 home loss to Siena, at five points between their current plight and safety.

Sannino needs to urgently transform Palermo from a team who are not too bad at scraping draws, but forlorn at grabbing victories. They have only three in the league so far.

Each of those was achieved under Gian Piero Gasperini, who replaced Sannino after the third match of the campaign, and who in turn was replaced by Sannino yesterday.

Very symmetrical, you might imagine. But this being Palermo, the story is far more complicated than that. Sannino's reappointment represents not the second change of coach within the season but the fourth.

Gasperini has left the post twice. He was first shown the door last month. Alberto Malesani came in to replace him.

Malesani barely had time to phone an estate agent, never mind a removal company. He lasted three games.

Back came Gasperini, a man whose experience with Inter Milan – where his stint in 2011 lasted five matches – has inoculated him against the wounds which trigger-happy presidents inflict.

The duration of Gasperini's second spell at Palermo? Fifteen days: Two matches; one draw and one defeat.

Is this a record? Hardly. At the beginning of last season, Palermo dismissed Stefano Pioli, who had been given the job in June, even before the first Serie A fixture.

That heralded the 21st change of coach of the restless president Maurizio Zamparini's first nine years in charge.

He is now on 27 firings and hirings, creeping steadily towards an average of three per season.

The next man in – he is likely to arrive quite soon – should look only for hotel accommodation, and be careful about reserving a room for much longer than two weeks.

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