Making The Right MovesBy: LorenzoRosanero | September 23rd, 2011
The big question surrounding the media outlets around Palermo was, â€śWhat has happened to Josip IliÄŤiÄ‡?â€ť After a positive debut against Inter, the Slovenian looked completely lost and utterly terrible against bottom-dwellers Atalanta. The inevitable follow-up regarded whether or not the ex-Maribor man should keep his spot in the starting lineup.
There are a lot of things still to be discovered regarding Devis Mangia. He is a virtual unknown in a business that thrives on finding out even the most personal details of its employees. Yet, one thing has been made evident: Devis Mangia operates on merit. True merit, that is. Not the so-called merit-based system that other coaches banter on about but then continually refuse to play guys worthy of a starting spots (see: Pioli, Stefano and Miccoli, Fabrizio). The young coach had a decision to make. Axe one of the biggest playmakers on the team in favor of two players who are hypothetical gambles in Zahavi and Bertolo.
The question marks were promptly answered only 15 minutes later when both players were already on the scoresheet. The result was a fantastic win against an impressive Cagliari side. Furthermore, the Rosanero regained the momentum they had lost over the weekend against Atalanta while reaffirming the style with which Mangiaâ€™s Palermo will play.
A quick thought on Mangiaâ€™s style then: itâ€™s obvious by now that the young coach demands a very high pressing system that forces each player on the pitch to sacrifice for the entire team and not strictly rely on individuals. That being said, it is also apparent that the teamâ€™s overall fitness needs to be even better given the system. One of the many problems under Stefano Pioli was that he never got the team at the level they needed to be. It showed against Thun, when the Rosanero were exhausted and helpless against inferior opposition. This past match against Cagliari highlighted that the team still isnâ€™t quite there yet. They ran out of steam with 10 minutes left and were fortunate not to have suffered a total collapse. Rest assured, though, Mangia knows this and is certainly taking the necessary steps to address the problem.
Now, Palermo must look ahead to Lazio â€“ a very difficult fixture against a team that has a lot of good players. Until then, Forza Palermo!
Tzorvas â€“ 5.5 â€“ A bit harsh but he was at fault for both goals despite making some tremendous saves during the course of the match. Against Cagliari, the good and the bad were seen although it is hoped that with some more time with his teammates and a better grasp of the language, heâ€™ll improve.
Pisano â€“ 6 â€“ The ex-Varese man is growing and itâ€™s evident already. Filling the void left by Cassani will not be easy, but Eros has shown a strong commitment to defense first â€“ something very important for a team that concedes too often. Still, he tired dramatically towards the end of the game which resulted in two goals for Cagliari.
Silvestre â€“ 7 â€“ The Argentine was a rock once again, always present to squash the Cagliari attack. He is the type of assurance Palermo needs and so far, so good for Silvestre.
Migliaccio â€“ 6.5 â€“ Probably partly at fault for Cagliariâ€™s second goal as he was the last man beaten by Nainggolan. Still, Giulio is tremendous at beating opponents to the ball and surprisingly in the air despite his stature.
Balzaretti – 7 – After a poor game, Federico was back to his usual self, churning up and down the left side of the pitch tirelessly. He caused several problems for Cagliari during the first half and was still going strong until the final whistle.
Zahavi â€“ 7 – Given his first official start in Rosanero, it took the Israeli just 16 seconds to find the back of the net with a vicious hit from outside the area that left Agazzi rooted to the spot. He couldâ€™ve doubled his tally a while later but was splendid until his substitution. The beauty of his game is that heâ€™s not overtly flashy but works for the team.
Barreto – 7 – Edgar is quickly becoming a vital part to the Palermo midfield. Already, he seems to be the metronome by which the team operates and has been excellent in providing defensive cover. What seemed to be just a roster filler on deadline day is turning out to be an exquisite signing by Sogliano.
Della Rocca – 6.5 – A vastly improved performance than what was seen in his debut against Inter. Francesco did well to link up with Barreto and injected some pace into the central midfield.
Bertolo – 7 - Finally rewarded with a start after a fantastic preseason and Nicolas answered with a goal â€“ his first in Rosanero. Mentioned several times during the summer, Bertolo is a valuable player to have on this team. He is dynamic, versatile and hungry. Mangia asked him to run and he did it until he was substituted. Hopefully, this is just the beginning from a player who was purchased the same summer as Javier Pastore.
Pinilla – 6.5 – Mauricio deserves the half point just for staying healthy through a full match. Another gritty performance for him and while it didnâ€™t contain a goal, sometimes having him up top holding the ball up and causing a ruckus for opposing defenses is just enough.
Miccoli – 8 -Fabrizioâ€™s season stat line reads: 3 games, 3 goals, 2 assists. The Palermo captain underlined once more that he is the true force behind Mangiaâ€™s method. He delivered another assist, this time with a perfectly timed and threaded pass to Bertolo. Sure, he missed a shot that weâ€™ve seen him bury time and time again that wouldâ€™ve made it 3-0, but he made more than up for it with a sublime free kick that escapes description. The gem against Inter was superb but somehow Miccoli surpassed that free kick effort with one from a terrific angle that caught everyone offguard. A Miccoli this in-form is the most dangerous weapon Palermo has at its disposal.
Aguirregaray â€“ 6.5 -Matias finally got his debut after coming on in the second half. Much is unknown about him but at the same time much is eagerly expected of the man once referred to as the â€śnew Maiconâ€ť. He is versatile in the sense that heâ€™s a wingback who can play fullback or in an outside midfield role. Given some time and a few more looks, itâ€™ll be easier to make a judgment call. Appears dangerous on the counter, though.
Acquah â€“ 6 – The beautyâ€¦or ruggednessâ€¦of Acquahâ€™s game is that he knows what heâ€™s supposed to do when he comes on the pitch. The young Ghanaian was a sparkplug from the moment he stepped on the field. His only problem is that heâ€™s a little to physical for his own good, picking up yet another caution for his efforts.
Abel Hernandez â€“ 6.5 -Adequate after replacing Miccoli with 13 minutes left in the game, Abel just needed to press and continually bring the ball forward. He did that.
Devis Mangia â€“ 8 â€“ Once again, Mangia got it right. He sent IliÄŤiÄ‡ to the bench and gave a merit-based lineup that resulted in three points and a momentum shift back in the right direction. His in-game tactics so far have been fantastic.