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Le Aquile - A Palermo Story

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Le Aquile - A Palermo Story

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I'm back! I knew I wouldn't be away for long (a couple of hours at the most)!! For my new career which will hopefully last a lot longer than my last one, I will be taking over at Palermo in Italy. Now, the Palermo fans have been through many ups and downs over the years (both on and off the pitch) and it would take me forever to give you the full background, so I'll bullet point it for quickness instead...
  • In 1970, Renzo Barbera took over the club and would become one of the greatest chairman in the club's history.​
  • After 1973, Palermo exclusively played in Serie B for a long period of time, but still experienced some success in reaching the Italian Cup Final in 1974 (losing to Bologna on pens).​
  • Their name was changed to Societa Sportiva Calcio Palermo in 1977 and in 1979 they reached their second Coppa Italia Final, this time losing to Juventus.​
  • Barbera sold the club in 1980 to Gaspare Gambino, after a 5 point deduction imposed on the club for a match fixing scandal involving midfielder, Guido Magherini.​
  • 4 years later in 1984, the club were relegated to Serie C for the first time in it's history, although they did return immediately to Serie B the following season.​
  • However, 1 year later in 1985/86 after a struggle against relegation, the club was expelled because of financial problems and folded.​
  • In 1987, after a year without professional football in Palermo, the club was refounded with the name Palermo and began playing in Serie C2.​
  • A return to Serie B occured in 1991, but only lasted a year. They then won Serie C1 in 1993.​
  • This time round, they managed to stave off relegation and stay in Serie B for 4 seasons and in 1994, wrote a piece of history for themselves knocking out AC Milan in the Coppa Italia 2nd Round.​
  • The 1995/96 season was their best throughout the 90s, finishing 7th in Serie B after fighting hard for promotion all year and even reaching the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia.​
  • However, the following season ended in relegation again and in 1997, the club played one of their worst seasons in their history and were due to be relegated to the Serie C2 division, but were saved by the federation due to the expulsion of fellow Serie C1 team, Ischia Isolaverde.​
  • AS Roma chairman, Franco Sensi bought the club in 2000 and the club were promoted back to Serie B that season.​
  • After a short reign, Sensi sold the club in 2002 to retail trade entrepeneur, Maurizio Zamparini for 15 million Euros.​
  • Zamparini was ambitious and brought some high profile signings to the club such as Luca Toni, Lamberto Zauli, Simone Pepe and Andrea Gasbarroni. In 2003-04, they were promoted to Serie A, with Toni scoring 30 goals in 45 games!​
  • Palermo were back in Serie A for the first time since 1973, and an impressive season saw them finish 6th in the top tier, qualifying for the UEFA Cup! Toni again finishing top scorer with 20 Serie A goals.​
  • Despite some decent European form (winning their group) the following season, Palermo dropped a couple of places to finish 8th, which would mean they would only qualify for the Intertoto Cup.​
  • However, due to the Serie A scandal of 2006, the FIGC decided Palermo would not play in the competition...other clubs had been penalized which meant Palermo's league position was elevated to 5th and UEFA Cup football would be theirs again.​
  • Palermo spent millions that Summer bringing in the likes of Aimo Diana, Mark Bresciano, Fabio Simplicio and Amauri and were tipped for good things that season of 2006/07. They started the campaign well topping the Serie A table early on, although they eventually ended up finishing 5th. They had struggled in Europe though, finishing bottom of their UEFA Cup group.​
  • That was the height of Palermo's achievements as after that they ended up falling away, and finished 18th in the 2012/13 season to be relegated.​
  • The won Serie B the following season though and immediately returned to the top flight, but 3 seasons of finishing in the bottom half followed and it was clear Palermo weren't going to get back to previous heights they had reached. In March 2017, the club was sold again to an Anglo-American fund, led by Paul Baccaglini, and that season the club was again relegated to Serie B.​
  • The sale of the club had still not gone through fully by the Summer of 2017 though and with the necessary funds still not in place, the club fell back into the hands of Zamparini. It was a sign of financial issues to come and the club experienced a number of administrative issues the following year.​
  • Palermo struggled in Serie B for 2 seasons finishing 4th and then 11th, with ongoing financial issues forcing them to sell some of their key players. With the club in mounting debt, Zamparini eventually sold the club to London company, Sport Capital Group, for just 10 Euros in November 2018.​
  • In 2019, the club changed hands again, being sold to a consortium led by Daniela De Angeli. However, there were ongoing investigations into the recent purchases and sales of the club (that become too obscure for me to understand) and despite Palermo finishing 11th in Serie B in 2018/19, the FIGC placed them at the bottom of the league due to financial irregularities and they were relegated to Serie C.​
  • The club did however form an appeal, which they won, and that allowed them to stay in Serie B. With the fans breathing a sigh of relief, there was still another twist in the tale as in June 2019, Palermo was reported to have failed to correctly submit it's application to participate in the 2019/20 Serie B season, by failing to provide a valid insurance policy and the club was formally excluded from Serie B in July 2019. Not only that, but the club would be excluded from Italian football and would be forced to restart from Serie D, with all of it's staff and players being released immediately.​
  • A new club was formed under the ownership of Dario Mirri and Tony DiPiazza that Summer called Societa Sportiva Dilettantistica Palermo and would enter the Serie D competition, which they won in their first season.​
  • The following season, the club finished 7th in Serie C3 and changed it's name once again, this time to Palermo Football Club.​

So this club has been through countless promotions, relegations, European adventure, financial woes, name changes, corruption, expulsion.....You name it, they've experienced it!

And that's where I come in. Alongside the new owners, under my management, we look to bring some stability back to this club and see them rise again through the divisions to the promised land of Serie A and see if we can bring those great European nights back for the fans who have been through so much!​
 
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With all the financial termoil that the club has previously found itself in, that was my first thing to check. Glad to say that we are now in a good place. We're not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we're stable and have no debt to worry about! There's even a small transfer budget for me to play with in my first season at the club.

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The board want to see early success and promotion to Serie B within 2 seasons is a must. I'll be expected to implement an attacking, entertaining brand of football and develop players through the club's youth system throughout my career here.

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Next up was to meet my new squad. It's fair to say it's a mixed bag with some very good players, but also some very bad ones. The squad is big enough to compete with a nice mix of players covering all positions.

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Easily our best player and likely to be picked as my captain with his experience, is Francesco De Rose. The central midfielder has spent a considerable amount of his career in Serie B, during two spells with Reggina, and he can play a vital part in any promotion bid we make this season.

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His central midfield partner isn't half bad either. Moses Odjer is one of only a small few of non Italian players in the team and the Ghanaian has represented his country at U21 level 10 times. If we can keep hold of him, he is the kind of player we can build a squad around for the next few seasons, although we may have trouble keeping him here with current interest from Serie B sides, Cremonese and Crotone.

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One of our key goalscoring threats for this season at least will be Giuseppe Fella, who is here on loan from Salernitana. He's got plenty of flair and with the attacking brand of football I am expected to play, he'll fit perfectly into the system and ethos I'll be looking to implement.

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Pre season finished with 5 wins from 5 games, although we didn't play any teams of any stature so we certainly won't get carried away. Positive that we didn't concede a single goal though.

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I used two tactics throughout pre season and this was the most prolific, so this where we'll start. I have a more attacking version too if we need a goal in a game. Players in positions is not necessarily starting lineup....just the team that played in the last friendly.

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Moses Odjer was impressive in pre season, so it was a blow to lose him for the first 6 weeks of the season just before our first competitive game!

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Our first competitive game under my management would be in the Coppa Italia Lega Pro. In the first round, we'd drawn fellow Serie C side Virtus Francavilla and ran out as 1-0 winners. Although the stats showed our complete dominance and we really should have won by more!

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With our first league game just around the corner, I can only imagine that there is some sort of bug in the game after seeing the bookies odds...Bari are an incredible 1/167 odds on to win the title!! 8 of their players make up the media dream 11, but those odds are still a bit steep!! We're a much more realistic 5/1 and predicted to finish 4th.

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Our first league game under my management would be against Taranto who were predicted for a mid table finish this year, so they might give a decent idea as to where we are at. The result suggests we're in a gooooooood place!

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Transfer deadline day brought about one deal for us. I needed extra cover at right back and 35 year old Lorenzo Del Prete was available on a free transfer, so I snapped him up! Despite his age, his attributes are still impressive and he definitely adds something to our team!

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We'd already beaten Virtus Francavilla in the cup, so had every reason to feel confident going into our next league game against them. Our confidence was not misplaced as we ran out easy winners again, with our opponents posing little threat!

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Our 3rd game threw up a fixture against Catanzaro, who had also won their previous two games. The question was who's 100% record was going to go...it wasn't ours :)

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We dived straight back into the Coppa Italia Lega Pro next and our opponents were another Serie C side in the form of Giana, who had started their own season with 3 defeats from 3 games in the league. We kept their losing run going here as we record a comfortable win to progress to the next round.

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ACR Messina are one of our local rivals and they would be our opponents in the next league game. With local bragging rights at stake for the fans, I knew I had to pump the team up for this one. As it turned out, the two most pumped players on the pitch were the keepers who both had solid games, pulling off some great saves to keep the score at 0-0.

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After dropping our first points of the season, it was important that we reacted in the right way. We went out with more attacking intent at home to Turris Calcio. The lads played exactly how I wanted them to with an intensity that our opponents couldn't handle as we mustered up 22 attempts at their goal, whilst they only managed 2 on ours. However, we just couldn't find the back of the net and a bad day in front of goal costs us 2 points!

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We only had a 3 day gap to our next game so some squad rotation was necessary for our next game. Although we weren't at our best, we managed to get back to winning ways which is the main thing.

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And we backed it up with another win against Fidelis Andria, thanks to a solid first half performance.

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So after 7 games, we are undefeated and lie 2nd in the table. Bari are fully justifying their ridiculous pre season odds by winning every game so far and already have a 4 point lead!

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Our next game would see us go away to Juve Stabia. They've made a good start to their campaign and sit 4th, winning 5 of their opening 8 games. Based on that, this is probably a decent point away from home, but we should really have won the game on the balance of play.

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Next up was a very good result though as we beat 5th placed Foggia. We controlled this game beautifully throughout and although their deep defensive style frutrated my lads at times, we kept our cool and patiently played out a tidy little victory. This was possibly my favourite performance so far.

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Another solid defensive performance was the backbone for our win over Potenza in our next game, with Nicola Valente scoring a close range effort to seal all 3 points.

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In fact, our defence has been nothing short of immense so far this season as we have kept an incredible 10 clean sheets in our 12 competitive games so far!!

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Yet another clean sheet in our next game and another 1-0 win! Really should have been a lot more though as we managed 29 shots on goal in this game (the most in a single match so far this season) and didn't manage to bag the winner until 2 minutes from time!

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We made it three 1-0 wins on the bounce against Campobasso and this time it was Francesco De Rose who popped up with his first goal of the season to grab the points.

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It was a win that moved us to the top of the table for the first time after Bari dropped points in their last two games.

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That led us to the next round of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro and an away trip to Sudtirol who sat 11th in one of the neighbouring Serie C divisions. And they managed to pull off what has to be seen as a shock result and knock us out of the competition! I am gutted to be honest as I felt this was a winnable cup for us in my first season in charge and it's especially hard to take as we dominated the game (21 shots to their 8 and 59% possession).

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Michele Somma's powerful headed effort from a free kick gave us a well deserved lead here against Paganese only for our keeper to throw it away at the end. Massolo literally passed the ball out from his goal straight to their striker to score a late equaliser and he single handedly cost us 2 points! Fair to say he got the hairdryer treatment at full time!

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Catania are another of our fierce local rivals, so it was bitterly disappointing to throw away a 2-0 lead against them in the final 10 minutes of the game! That's three games without a win now and we seem to have hit our first bad run of form.

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We haven't gone behind very often this season, so I knew it would be a test of our character when Vibonese took the lead against the run of play in the 32nd minute. The lads rallied well, kept their nerve and we ground out a 2-1 to get back to winning ways!

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So after 15 games, we are very much in the mix with Bari at the top end of the table, but it is Avelino who have emerged as league leaders for now. We are the only unbeaten team still in the division...In fact, we're actually the only unbeaten league time in the country!

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Monterosi are languishing in 19th position with only 10 points from their opening 15 games, so I fully expected an easy win here. Apart from a couple of lapses in concentration, it was as easy as you like and we score 4 in a game for the second time this season.

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And that set us up for the big one! Bari away...and I was fully aware that this had the potential to be our first league defeat of the season. Although we would go into the game as favourites...

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My fears were realised though and Bari inflict our first defeat of the season on us! Although looking at the stats, it was a totally undeserved victory for them!

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It's always good to follow up a defeat with what should be an easy game, and there should be nothing easier than playing the side at the bottom of the division without a single win this season!

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It turned out to be just as comfortable as I'd expected.

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And from playing the team at the bottom of the table, we go away to Avellino who are top of it! Worth noting that they haven't lost a home game all season either!

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And we couldn't be the first to beat them. But I'll take this result as it's fair to say that they were the first team this season that has outclassed us!

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We were poor in our next game too as we dropped points against 18th placed Taranto. We must make sure we are winning these sorts of games in the 2nd half of the season to ensure we keep up with the leaders in the league.

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We have dropped to 4th place now, although are still within touching distance of the three above us. We go into the Winter break now and will have an 18 day gap before our next game.

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The Winter break obviously did us good as we came back with a bang, smashing 4 goals past 7th placed Virtus Francavilla! A really nice team performance and a great result to kick off 2022.

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But we couldn't keep that momentum going as we lose away at fellow title challengers Catanzaro in what was a very tight game that could have gone either way.

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We did follow that up with a fantastic win over Messina though when you consider that we played 75 minutes of the game with 10 men! They nearly mounted a 2nd half comeback but my lads held their nerve to hold on for all 3 points!

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And then we drop points again in a disappointing draw against mid table side, Turris. Again, one of my players sees red for the 2nd game in a row and I may need to have a chat with the lads about their discipline.

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We've had too many games like that one where we should have scored and didn't, so on transfer deadline day, I decided to look for a striker I could bring in. With funds unavailable (as I had adjusted my transfer budget into the wage budget), I turned to the loan market and brought in Giacomo Beretta from Serie B side Cittadella for the rest of the season.

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The other deadline day arrival was 20 year old left back, Vasilis Zagaritis, who comes in on loan from Parma. He's better than our other options in the position and I'm hoping he can have a positive impact on the team.

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Both new signings went straight into the starting lineup against Monopoli but couldn't inspire us to a win as we suffer another disappointing draw.

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Beretta definitely had an impact in his second start though as his double saw us come back and win against Fidelis Andria after going behind inside the opening 30 seconds of the game! Hopefully his first two goals of many between now and the end of the season.

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Beretta was on the scoresheet again as we recorded an easy win over Picerno and he seems to have settled quickly and could turn out to be a great little loan signing.

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Our next two games were going to present us with tough opposition as we took on Juve Stabia in 3rd and Foggia in 5th! This could be a decisive couple of games in the title race!

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A good win against Juve was followed by a defeat at Foggia. We were really good against Juve...probably at our very best as we had to be, and an argument can be made to say we were unlucky against Foggia and deserved at least a draw.

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It leaves us 2nd in the division, level points with Juve Stabia and three more teams right on our heels. Bari have once again opened up a lead at the top and they are proving tough to peg back.

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We took 4 points from our next two games, although it was disappointing to draw with Campobasso who are struggling in the bottom half of the table. It was especially gutting as Bari lost that weekend and we could have made 3 points on them, but instead only made 1.

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What was even more gutting though was losing on loan left back Vasilis Zagaritis for the next 6 weeks to injury!!

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He's been awesome since he arrived with 4 assists and a goal in his first 6 appearances for us and brought a new attacking dynamic to the side down the left flank!

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It shows just how good Zagaritis has been when you compare him to his replacement Maxime Giron who only had 3 assists in 21 games before his arrival. His average rating is decent enough but his impact in the final 3rd doesn't come close.

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Our next game saw us turn in our worst performance of the season and we genuinely awful in every area of the pitch. Keeper had a nightmare, defence looked nervous throughout, midfield had no creativity and forwards shooting was dreadful! Hopefully, this was just a one off bad day at the office!

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There would be no better game to get the lads fired up after that shocker of a performance in our last match, than the Sicilia Derby against Catania. However, for 83 minutes we weren't in this game and didn't look up for it in the slightest. After our opponents took the lead, we finally woke up and came to life and managed to scrape a draw that we didn't deserve, but this was again a poor showing and I have every reason to be concerned after the last couple of games!

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A team meeting was called, where I told the lads we had the quality to turn our poor form around. They reacted as well as I could have hoped and we'll have to see if the morale boost brings around a better performance in our next game.

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It seemed to do the trick as we turned in a much better performance against Vibonese in our next game!

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The damage had already been done with that previous poor run of form though and we drop to 5th in the table and we won't be winning any title this season. It is very much Bari's to lose!

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We will now be focused on finishing as high in the top 6 as possible to get us further on in the playoffs. As per the league rules below, it shows where everyone will enter depending on their final position.

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We have two teams at the bottom and two teams at the top to play. Bari will have to beat the best to win the title as they still play us, 2nd and 3rd in their final 4 games!

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This season's youth intake is described as excellent but I beg to differ. I will monitor the development of these players, but in the early stages I am hardly overwhelmed.

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15 year old winger, Nino Papaserio looks like the hottest prospect to me at this stage.

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With a couple of very tough games on the horizon, it was essential that we got a win against 16th placed Monterosi. So you can imagine my disappointment with our performance as we only managed a bore draw!

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However, we did quickly put things right as we beat the league leaders and probable champions in our very next game! Much, much better!

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Latina needed to avoid defeat to us to avoid relegation and boy, did they give us a good fight. Fair play to them as they really did give it everything, but were just that bit too strong for them on the day. They are down.

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But we finish the regular season on a low point, getting beat and subsequently overtaken by Avellino!

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So it's a 5th placed finish for us in the league, there or thereabouts where we were expected to finish at the start of the campaign. We will enter the playoffs in the first round and if we're to go up, we'll have to do it the hardest way possible. Bari finished up as champions and all those punters who gambled on them at 1/167 odds on will be happy 😂

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We were clearly in the toughest of the three Serie C divisions though, as our 75 point tally would have seen us finish second in Serie C Girone B, and we would have actually won Serie C Girone A on goal difference!!

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Playoffs here we come!!​
 
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We took on Virtus Entella, who finished 6th in the Serie C/B in the first round of the playoffs. It was a tightly contested game, but we just edged it and probably just about deserved it too. It was nervy for a long time as we clung on to a 1 goal lead, but Mattia Felici's headed effort late on put the game to bed.

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So our next playoff opponents would be Lucchese Libertas who actually finished just behind Virtus Entella in 7th place in their division. As expected, we were a lot more dominant in this game and win again by a 2-0 scoreline. We've started these playoffs with two good results without conceding a goal, giving us a nice confidence boost as we march on.

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In the 3rd round of the playoffs, we drew Feralpisalo who finished 3rd in Serie C/A, although they did finish with 10 points less than we did in our division finishing 5th! The Playoffs now go to a 2 leg system and at home we got the job done despite having to play a large portion of the game with only 10 men! We then went away and finished the tie off with another win, using a slightly more reserved tactic as we knew they would come at us.

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So we were through to the quarter finals of the playoffs and awaiting us there were AlbinoLeffe who finished 2nd in the Serie C/A, but again they were a team that finished the season with less points than we did! Again, we win both legs to progress to the semi finals, but it wasn't easy as our opponents proved tough to break down.

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In the semi final we would take on Turris, who were having an amazing playoff campaign after finishing 11th in our division. Although they were well behind us in the table, we played out two 0-0 draws with them in the regular season so this wasn't expected to be easy for us. And again, away from home in the first leg, we played out yet another draw, which left us the home leg to get the job done. And we did...we were great in the home leg dominating the game from start to finish!

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So we made it to the final of the playoffs and our single biggest game of the entire season would be against a Foggia side that finished above us in 3rd in our division. During the regular season, they beat us 1-0 at their place and we won 2-0 at home! The Playoff final would be a one off match and it was tough to call either way. But it was us that would have home advantage with the game taking place at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

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NOOOOO! It was extra time heartache for us as we made it all this way only to be done in the final! Absolutely devestated is a total understatement but we will go away this Summer and come back stronger next year!!

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End of Season 2021/22 Review

Serie C Girona C = 5th place (made playoff final and lost to Foggia)
Coppa Italia Lega Pro = 3rd Round (knocked out by Sudtirol)


Serie A Winners = Juventus
Coppa Italia Winners = Juventus
Serie B Winners = Parma
Serie C Girona A Winners = Pro Vercelli
Serie C Girona B Winners = AC Reggiana


Ultimately, it was a season of meeting rather than exceeding expectations. We finished roughly where expected to in the league and didn't win the cup, which we weren't expected to either. I would have liked to have gone a bit deeper in the Coppa Italia Lega Pro though and think that is a winnable trophy for us while we're down at this level.

Looking at the squad, overall the whole team played pretty well with a fair few players achieving over a 7.0 average across the season, which is my benchmark. The goalkeeper duties were relatively evenly shared as I didn't really have someone that stepped up and commanded the role as their own. The defence was strong and the centre back partnerships mostly worked with whoever I used in the roles, but on loan Marco Perrotta stood out as extremely good and I'll look to keep him here for another season if possible. I expected better of Lorenzo Del Prete after he came in at right back and he was actually outshone by Misimiliano Doda in that position. Vasilis Zagaritis is another player I'd love to keep here on another season loan as he was exceptional after he joined for the 2nd half of the season. The central midfielders all did OK, although nobody was amazing throughout. Nicola Valente has quickly become my favourite player of the save and was my most dependable attacker, leading both the goalscoring and assist chart from his right wing position. Matteo Brunori went a little under the radar with his 18 goals and was one of those strikers where I didn't actually realise how many he'd scored...I think I can bring someone better in though and probably won't renew his loan deal. I'll also allow Giacomo Beretta to return to his club as he didn't set the world alight after coming in either.

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The best 11...

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The awards...

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Support for my management amongst the squad is good and their generally happy.

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Across the course of the season, we were generally above average in all areas compared to the rest of the league. With an average of 15 shots per game though, I definitely feel like we should have scored more goals and this is down to a lack of quality up front. We pass the ball around well and create the opportunities...we just need someone who can finish them with regularity. It felt like my strikers were missing 5 chances to every one they would actually score.

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And we didn't score a single goal from outside the box this year, so it would be good to add at least one midfielder who is decent at taking long shots. In all fairness, we barely even attempted to score from distance with only 23 shots from ourside the 18 yard box all season! Again, it probably backs up how bad our strikers were in the fact that all their chances were inside the box too.

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The club's commercial summary shows a decent amount of sponsorship money coming into the club this season. Combined with over £700k in broadcast money, it keeps the bank balance in a stable position.

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Plans for the Summer

As mentioned above, I need to bring in a more commanding keeper as neither of mine are good enough. We also need to add a quality playmaker in midfield and a good striker. Those are the key targets, but with only £123k available in the transfer kitty, it won't be easy to find good reinforcements. We do have a little movement in the wage budget though, so if any decent players become available on free transfers, we should be able to meet their package demands to bring them to the club.

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There was good news in the fact that Marco Perrotta (Bari) and Vasilis Zagaritis (Parma) both signed on for another year on loan at the club.

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I wasn't planning on bringing striker, Matteo Brunori, back to the club for another season as he was costing us £4,200 in wages last season and wasn't worth being the highest paid player in the squad taking up more than 10% of the entire wage budget. However, Juventus allowed me to renew his deal for a fraction of the wage contribution so it made it worthwhile. He will stay for another year and I'm now only contributing £1,300 per week towards his salary for the pleasure.

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My first new signing of the window was exciting attacker, Shakur Omar, who comes in on a season long loan from Atalanta. There was quite a few clubs after him and he has chosen to come to us and I'm really looking forward to playing him as I think he can make a big impact down at this level.

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Then it was time to add a few free transfers of players that were out of contract. Lorenzo Libutti comes in and will likely act as my number one right back this year. He joins from AC Reggiana where he played 31 times for them last season in Serie C.

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I needed to make a significant improvement in between the sticks and my new keeper will be Giacomo Bindi. He is an experienced keeper who could prove to be a safe pair of hands for us. He joins from Pordenone in Serie B, where he played 32 times last season.

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Antonio Palumbo bolsters my central midfield options, again dropping down from Serie B side Ternana. He played 22 times for them last season and his experience at the higher level will come in handy.

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The last one is a solid centre back in the form of 30 year old Frenchman Josue Albert. He comes in from Ligue 1 side, Clermont Foot. He only played 7 times for them last year, but again it's great to add a player with experience at a significantly higher level.

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I needed extra cover at right back, but had no real budget left to bring anyone in. So I turned to 19 year old Juventus full back, Tommaso Barbieri, who comes in on a season long loan.

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And then there was another exciting addition to our attacking unit. 19 year old Brian Oddei bring with him some pace, some flair, a decent first touch, good dribbling ability and strong determination. He'll play a big part this season I'm sure. He joins on a season long loan from Sassuolo.

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In fact, both our exciting young forwards are favourites to be the best player in the league this season!

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Our Summer business has been impressive and that's proven by the fact that the media dream 11 contains no less than 6 of our players make this year's media dream 11! With that in mind, the bookies have us at odds on to win the title, although we're not quite the favourites and based on the fact that Vibonese are only 33/1 to win it and their predicted 17th shows just how tight the league is!

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Preparations for the new season went well enough. I was keen for us to test ourselves against some Serie B opposition and we managed a win over Monza and a draw against Torino, whilst also running Brescia close.

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Shakur Omar makes an instant impact on his debut for the club as we thump Potenza on the opening day of the season, with the youngster bagging a brace. He came within inches of scoring his hat trick in the dying moments too as a strike in the 90th minute went just over the bar!

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We made it back to back victories to kick off the campaign as we comfortable beat Vibonese in our next game. Our opponents failed to register a single shot on our goal here in what was an excellent display of defending from my lads.

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We knocked Turris out of the playoffs last season at the semi final stage and knew they would come here looking for revenge! However, there was no revenge to be found here and we now have a 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0 win to our names so far these season.

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The Coppa Italia Lega Pro is a competition I'd really like us to have a go at winning this year, but at the same time I do expect to use the competition to give some game time to some of our squad players. I need to find the correct balance to make it work. However, with a very heavily rotated team, we nearly fell at the first hurdle and required extra time to overcome Teramo.

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Back in the league, back at full strength, and back to our very, very best! We absolutely battered Monopoli here with my biggest win as Palermo manager to date.

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And we found things just as easy against newly promoted side, Rende.

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The goals weren't flowing against Virtus Francavilla, but the defence was just as solid as always and that meant a single strike from Brunori was enough to take the spoils.

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Back to cup action and in our first round we were taken to extra time to get through, and this time we were taken one step further by Ascoli and needed a penalty shootout to progress. In fact, we were only 20 seconds away from going out of the competition before 18 year old youth prospect Giacomo Corona hammered home an equaliser in extra time!

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Could this young striker have the potential to be a first team regular one day?

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Back in the league, we had no further issues as we won our next 3 games with a certain amount of ease. Young Corona bagged himself his first league goals for the club in the Sicilia Derby against Catania!

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That extends our winning streak at the start of the season to 9 games and we haven't conceded a single goal so far this season in the league!

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So of course now that I bring it to your attention, we go and lose our very next game. To be fair though, it was totally undeserved as we dominated the match and their goal was a worldie. We just had a bad day up front and I'm confident we'll bounce back from this.

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Even with that recent defeat, we still remain top of the league and with a 4 point lead over our closest rivals.

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It was important that we immediately bounced back from our first defeat of the season, so I was really pleased with this result and the performance to go with it was excellent.

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Catanzaro were right up there in the mix last season and had started this campaign fairly well too, coming into this game in 6th position. We had to be on our A game to get a result against them, but we really weren't and suffer defeat for the 2nd time in 3 games!

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Although it's always gutting to lose when you completely dominate your opponent for 90 minutes!

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That defeat would make our next game against pre season favourites Avellino 1912 a much bigger one than it already was. It was a top of the table clash!

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And it was a top of the table clash that extended our lead further at the top! A fantastic result for us against a team we really struggled against last season! These are the sort of results that show me how far we've come over the last year.

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The third round of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro presented us with a tie against Juventus U23s and I was expecting a really tough game! They had some really good players in their team, with striker Kaio Jorge standing out as an exceptional talent!

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However, we had no reason to be worried at all. Kaio Jorge posed no threat as our centre back pairing kept him quiet and we absolutely ran riot up the other end smashing 5 past the champion's youngsters.

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From Juventus to Juve and it was a very different story back in the league. We are hitting some indifferent form at the moment in the league competition with some very up and down results!

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And that form continued over our next few games as we win 2 and lose 2! Although we have lost our points lead in the league, we can celebrate the fact that we have made it to the semi final of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro.

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Even despite a few losses in the league lately, we have just about managed to retain our spot at the top of the table for now, although the chasing pack are closing in.

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After our pretty average run of form over the past few games, I was keen to stabilize and we needed to put a run of good results together through December before the Winter break. We did manage to string together 3 straight victories which included a first leg win away from home in the semi final of the cup, putting us in prime position to get to the final.

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However, we finish the year with a disappointing draw away at Potenza. We dominated the game for 77 minutes, finally got our goal that looked like it would give us the win and then completely went to sleep for the last 13 minutes!!

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It was a result that saw us lose top spot as we just pass the half way stage of the season!

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The Winter break came and went and we kicked off 2023 with a statement, smashing 5 past Vibonese!

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And we followed that up with another good win against Turris and that those 6 points from our last 2 games have taken us back to the top of the league.

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That led us nicely into the 2nd leg of our Coppa Italia Lega Pro Semi Final. We were just one game away from our first cup final under my management and took a slender 1-0 lead from the 1st leg into this game. And to be honest, the tie was never really in doubt and was pretty much all over by half time here as led 4-0 on aggregate with 45 minutes to play. The score remained that way and we are into our first cup final!!

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Where we will take on Pescara over two legs. They currently sit 6th in the Serie C/B.

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Back to league action and our next opponents, Rende, were rooted to the bottom of the table with only 4 points to their name from 22 games! Surely this would be an easy win for us! And it was the easiest 2-0 you'll ever see as we record an extraordinary 37 shots at their goal!!

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Our next game was a lot tighter against 5th placed Monopoli, but we just about managed another win despite later pressure from the home side. We seem to be finding our form again.

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In fact, we're now 7 games unbeaten in the league!

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And we're back on the top of the league table, albeit by just a single point as Avellino and Catanzaro look set to push us all the way this season! The top 4 have pulled right away from the rest of the division and even with 14 games to go, it's obvious to see that the title will go to one of those sides.

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Four more wins throughout February extended our unbeaten run to 11 league games and we have won 10 of them. We are absolutely flying at the moment!

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That took us into a first leg of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro final! We would play at home first and I was looking for us to establish an advantage to take into the second game at their place! We had to fancy ourselves as well as Pescara came into the game in the worst form of their season, winning only 3 of their last 11 in all competitions.

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We do take a 2 goal lead back to Pescara for the 2nd leg and that 93rd minute strike from Brian Oddei could prove to be absolutely massive in this tie!

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We only had a 2 day gap between the cup game and this one back in the league against Casertana. I had to rotate virtually everyone in the first 11 and we struggled to get any kind of momentum going. A stoppage time penalty did save us a defeat but it is still 2 valuable points dropped in the title race.

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And we followed that up with defeat against 6th placed Viterbese. The games are coming thick and fast with only a 3 day gap again and it seems to be costing us at the wrong time of the season.

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We maintained our lead at the top of the table...just! But our next three games would define our season as we take on the teams sitting just behind us in the league!

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We were on the verge of a complete meltdown after two defeats, but managed to restore some pride with a win over Juve Stabia.

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The two defeats do mean that we have lost our advantage in the league table though, but we are still very much in this title race with 5 games remaining.

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This year's youth intake is nothing short of rubbish, without a single player looking like he has the potential to come through the ranks.

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Run in - 5 games to go! It was important we got our 5 off to a good start...and we did just that with a very convincing win and performance!

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Then it was time to put the league to the back of our minds for a game. We had a 2nd leg of the cup final to play! With a 2-0 lead from the home leg, we were in a commanding position but the question on everyone's lips was could we see it through? The answer was yes...but only thanks to an immense defensive performance after we tried our best to make things as hard as possible for ourselves with 2 sending offs!!!

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My first cup is in the bag!

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Back in the league, we had to get down to business and push on to see if we could win this title. Two more games and two more wins...job done, but by the skin of our teeth scraping two 1-0s!

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Two games remain and it's any one of three of us that will lift the trophy! It's Avellino's to lose from here though!

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We got the job done in our penultimate game against Olbia to keep ourselves in the hunt for the title!

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But so did both our rivals and it will come down to the final day of the season!!

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The final day drama unfolded and there were three of us that could win the title! Catanzaro would need both us and Avellino to lose and them to win to lift the trophy! The did their bit!

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We would need to win and hope Avellino didn't for us to lift the title. We did our bit!

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So it would all come down to how Avellino faired against playoff chasing Monopoli. They raced into a 2-0 lead and were cruising at half time with one hand on the trophy! However, a second half rally from my new favourite team ensured Avellino took no points from their match and therefore forfeited the Serie C/C league title and with it automatic promotion to Serie B....to us!!

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Absolutely incredible drama on the last day of the season as we complete a league and cup double and it will be Serie B football for us next season! I am beyond delighted!! It was nice to do it with more points than Bari achieved last year too (84).

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End of Season 2022/23 Review

Serie C Girona C = Champions (promoted to Serie B)
Coppa Italia Lega Pro = Winners (beat Pescara in final)

Serie A Winners = Juventus
Coppa Italia Winners = Napoli
Serie B Winners = Salernitana
Serie C Girona A Winners = Juventus U23
Serie C Girona B Winners = Ternana


What an amazing season it turned out to be. Double winners and two trophies added to the cabinet. We look forward to challenging ourselves at the higher level next season and entering the Coppa Italia proper as well.

Turns out we did have 2 more games to play against the other two winners of the Serie C leagues, but we weren't at our best and finish bottom of the group.

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Looking over the squad this season, it's fair to say that 99% played their part with a large amount of the squad recording an above 7.0 average across the whole season. I rotated a lot this season and most players got a fair amount of game time and that helped us keep our best players fresh for the bigger games. Our strength in depth was definitely a contribution to our added success over last season. The two young loanees that were brought in up top, Brian Oddie and Shakur Omar, were sensational and both finished the season on 18 goals a piece, whilst also contributing with 17 assist between them as well. Matteo Brunori excelled himself this season and beat his goals tally from last year, reaching as many as 23, and proved to be well worth bringing back for another season on loan considering I was deliberating not doing so. Francesco De Rose may be 35 years old now, but our captain proved he still had plenty to offer this year and his 11 assists were 3rd highest in the team. It was new right back Lorenzo Libutti who led the assists chart with 13 and he proved to be a great signing for us. All of the defence were solid throughout and having a decent keeper between the sticks also made a huge difference in this year's title challenge.

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The best 11...

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The awards...

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No less than 8 of our players were named in the Team of the Year for the division.

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Two of our players were also named as the defender and midfielder of the year!

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As we look over the general performance for the past season, all our stats are again above the averages in the league and there was an improvement on most areas from last season too.

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Despite the commercial income into the club over the past season, the bank balance does still sit in the red, although it's not a bad enough situation to be panicking about it yet.

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Plans for the Summer

We don't have the greatest budget to add to the team over the Summer, with only £78k added to the transfer kitty. However, a boost of over £30k per week to the wage budget will definitely help in attracting some decent free transfers and loan signings to the club I hope. We will naturally look to keep our best players at the club and if we can add a bit of extra quality as well, then I see no reason why we can't stay up next year.

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One thing I will need is a new goalkeeper as Giacomo Bindi has decided to retire.

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There were some loan deals I really wanted to renew for next year and am pleased to have arranged new deals to keep Shakur Omar (Atalanta), Marco Perrotta (Bari) and Brian Oddei (Sassuolo) for another season.

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I've also signed a new 2 year deal to stay at the club for the foreseeable.

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The board's expectations for our first season back in Serie B is simply to stay there. As far as the Coppa Italia goes, they're not expecting us to pull up any trees there either.

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I released a large number of players from the club this Summer for several reasons. Some just not good enough, some had unrealistic contract expectations and some just didn't want to stay here.

One of the most notable departures is vice captain Michele Somma who played 58 league games under my tenure and was decent for us. However, he wanted to be seen as a star player for the club and he's simply fallen down the pecking order and I wasn't willing to give him that, so he leaves the club.

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Jeremie Broh is another player I'd have liked to keep at the club as I think he was good enough to do a job for us as a squad player in Serie B. However, again he wanted increased playing time that I simply couldn't give him and he departs.

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Now on to some of the new signings who will hopefully play a big role in keeping us in Serie B this year. The first is striker, Ettore Gliozzi. He comes in on loan from Como for the season and gives us an upgrade (with his attributes anyway) on Matteo Brunori who was here for the last two seasons but has now returned to Juventus.

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Next in were two centre backs on free transfers who are both good enough to challenge for regular first team starts. Edoardo Bovolon joins us from Como where he has been a squad rotation player for them in Serie B for the past two seasons playing 39 league games, with an average rating of 6.85. The second is a more experienced head in the form of 31 year old Simone Benedetti who comes in from another Serie B side, Alessandria. He has featured less for them, only playing 12 times in the past 2 years, but should play more than that for us this year.

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I think my next signing could prove to be one of my most important for the upcoming season. 31 year old, Federico Viviani joins us from SPAL on a freebie and he has played in Serie A regularly for them and the likes of Bologna and Hellas Verona during his career. His experience will prove key for us!

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At this stage, I had a very bare looking squad still. I'm comfortable with centre back and central midfield. We also have good first time choices on the wings. However, I still need 2 keepers, 2 left backs, another right back, another striker and another winger. Plenty still to do!

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Backup keeper is sorted as Tommaso Nobile signs from Serie C side, Virtus Francasvilla for a fee of £20,000. He has been their number 1 keeper for the past 2 seasons, conceding 84 goals in 76 matches. He's not amazing, but was happy to take a backup contract on a minimum wage so ticks the box.

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I then signed our second striker as Alessio Rosa joins on loan from Atalanta. I'm hoping he can bring his shooting boots with him as he had an incredible season last year in Serie C for Catanzaro scoring 33 goals in 40 games. If he can get half as many as that this year for us in the higher division, he will have been an awesome signing!

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I needed two left backs and the first one to join the club is probably (or hopefully) the one that will act as a backup. Djevencio Van Der Kust comes in on loan from FC Utrecht and I'll fully admit this is a bit of a desperate signing to fill the position for now as I've already missed out on several other targets (or not been able to afford them).

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Just a couple of days later though, I did manage to announce another loanee who will likely be the number 1 left back this season. Pablo Garcia comes in from Lille on loan for the season and should be able to make an impression on this team with his skill set.

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The squad was starting to come together. There are a lot of loans coming in, but we knew this would be the case with a limited budget and this year is all about staying up and then we can build from there.​
 
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Our first five friendlies of pre season had gone pretty well and the new players seem to be settling into the club OK. A good win over Spezia looks promising as they are amongst the favourites in Serie B this upcoming season.

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As far as we go, the bookies expect us to avoid relegation but only narrowly. Although, we are only 20/1 to win the league despite our predicting 16th placed finish, which shows just how competitive this division is! There's plenty of clubs here that have played Serie A football before and we'll test ourselves against some good teams this year. None of our players are good enough to make the media dream 11 at this level.

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Before we could kick things off in the league though, we had a preliminary round of the Coppa Italia to play, which pitted us against Serie C side, Virtus Entella. We played them 2 seasons ago in the Playoff 1st Round, beating them 2-0 and with a better squad now, I expected us to repeat the feat. We did manage to get the win, even though our shooting left a lot to be desired as we only managed a single shot on target from 13 attempts!

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That result put us through to the next round and a we were handed a much tougher tie away at Udinese with the game to be played just 6 days later. It was the first time I'd come up against Serie A opposition in my career and I would mark the occasion as my 100th as Palermo manager.

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However, we were largely outclassed for large periods and it's clear to see we are some way off Serie A standard just yet. My first Coppa Italia adventure comes to a quick end.

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I still needed a 2nd keeper and ideally a better one to take my number 1 slot. I managed to raise some funds into the transfer budget by offering a lower bonus for cup competitions, which allowed me to spend £73,000 on Matthijs Branderhorst who joins from N.E.C. Welcome to our new first choice keeper!

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So it was time to kick off our Serie B campaign and we kicked things off with a win away at Frosinone. A great way to start with a win over one of our fiercest rivals on their home turf!

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Our first home game of the season also finished in a 1-0 victory and I'm delighted to have started the season with back to back wins!

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Transfer deadline day saw the sale of Antonion Palumbo to Alessandria for a fee of £37,000. He forced a move out of the club as he was unhappy with his squad status and based on his performance in the opening two games, I was willing to do a deal to get him out.

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It meant I needed to bring in a replacement and I'm pleased with the lad I've managed to bring in. With nothing available in the wage or transfer budget, I again turned to the loan market and have landed 21 year old Sidnei Tavares from Porto. He is easily the best player I have had at the club to play my central midfield advanced playmaker role and I look forward to the creativity he will bring for our front men.

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Back to the action now and my first meeting with local rivals, Reggina, was a hugely entertaining one for the fans and we maintain maximum points in the division. There was a banger of a debut goal for Taraves as he blasted home from outside the box and his shot cannoned in down off the crossbar!

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It's been a dream start to life in Serie B and after 3 games, we are the only side with a 100% record and sit pretty at the top of the table!

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Our next 5 games threw up some mixed results, but we are still picking up valuable wins that are keeping us near the top end of the table.

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Brian Oddei has taken to Serie B like a duck to water and has been our standout player in the early stages of the season, involved in 8 goals in 8 games!

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On a negative note, we have just lost Sidnei Tavares for the next 6-7 weeks through injury!

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Spezia were one of the pre season favourites to win the league and had started the campaign well, sitting above us in 3rd. So to go to their place and win is a huge statement from our side and a really big result!

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Vicenza are bottom of the league with only 4 points from their opening 11 games, so I expected to get the win here and the lads duly delivered.

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And we made it three wins on the bounce as we beat Monza in a tightly contested game!

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That would lead us into arguably the toughest game we'll play all season as we took on Parma for the first time. The pre-season favourites gave us a decent game, but again we prove too strong and show we're a match for anyone in this division!

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It's not very often that we give a bad defensive performance but the game against Venezia was one of those games. However, we still walk away with a point so it wasn't all bad.

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SPAL are another side that have spent some recent time in Serie A, so we were under no illusions about how difficult an opponent they would be. But we have turned Renzo Barbera into somewhat of a fortress lately and we record a comfortable win over another one of the best sides in the division. We're simply on fire through this first half of the season.

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In fact, we have been so good through the first 14 games of the season, that only Parma are really keeping up with us at the moment!

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