Student Beats TeacherBy: LorenzoRosanero | October 4th, 2011
After five games into Palermoâ€™s 2011-12 campaign, the Rosanero sit in second place on 10 points, only 1 point behind joint leaders Juventus and Udinese. While that accomplishment is impressive in itself, table watching should not be standard practice so early in the season. Beyond the nice position in the current table, Devis Mangia has achieved in just the 4th and 5th game something that took last seasonâ€™s side until the 18th and 19th game â€“ two consecutive blanksheets in Serie A. The fact that Mangia has managed to do this without sacrificing attractive football for dull, defensive play is nothing short of astonishing.
Palermo came back to the Barbera fresh off a drab scoreless draw against a powerful Lazio team. While the game overall was nothing overtly outstanding, the lessons learned from the encounter were worth remembering. Mangia was getting his players to play smart, compact football.
The match against Siena provided the opportunity for Palermo and its supporters to see what could have been versus what currently is. Giuseppe Sannino was the mastermind â€“ an integral part of Vareseâ€™s dream run that saw the club go from C2 to Serie B. His appointment was made by a man now occupying the DS role in Palermo, Sean Sogliano. When Sogliano accepted the Palermo job, he looked to fill the Rosanero coaching vacancy with his phenomenal coach. Unfortunately, Zamparini saw one disastrous result and passed, preferring the defunct Stefano Pioli.
Sogliano did manage to bring some of his old crew from his time at Varese with him by signing Eros Pisano and assigning the young, unknown Devis Mangia as the Palermo Primavera coach. Mangia had done very well with the Varese Primavera in the previous year and so Sogliano was excited to have him on board. The rest of the story needs no repeating as Mangia unexpectedly became the coach of the senior team.
Even though it was not a traditional teacher-student relationship, Sannino and Mangia worked together here and there while at Varese. Sundayâ€™s match was an exhibition of two coaches on the rise even though one was much younger than the other. And for everything Sannino threw at Mangia with his team up a man but needing a goal, Mangia countered brilliantly.
The addition of Pablo Gonzalez, a man with an unstated vendetta against Palermo, resulted in the expulsion of Balzaretti only two minutes later. Mangia replaced his outside midfielder with Andrea Mantovani to fill the defensive gap. When Sannino added Dâ€™Agostino to the mix (a Palermitano himself) for a creative spark, Mangia put in Acquah to commandeer the midfield.
In the end, Palermo won 2-0 but it was the way Mangia was able to get the Rosanero to play compactly in spite of the one man disadvantage. For those who saw the game, Palermo arguably played better while down a man. The result never seemed in doubt and Mangia was praised by his former coworker.
Ahead lies even more difficult tests, with away trips to Milan and Roma on the cards. Yet, the Mangia magic has continued to exist. There is an energy and exciting buzz emanating around Tenente Onorato that wasnâ€™t there a short time ago. Forza Palermo!
Tzorvas â€“ 6 â€“ Alexandros had nothing to do the whole game. He may have been called into action once.
Pisano â€“ 8 â€“ Eros is making everybody forget about Cassani. He made a case for man of the match on Sunday with his poise and defensive stops. He has been a gem and has lived up to the potential that was seen in Serie B with Varese.
Silvestre â€“ 8 â€“ Siena’s attack may not be as prestigious or dangerous as Lazio’s big name strikers, but nonetheless Matias was as solid as ever. Remember, Siena had scored four goals in their last two matches. Silvestre put an end to that.
Migliaccio â€“ 8.5 â€“ Mr. Prandelli, let me introduce you to Giulio. He’s a midfielder by trade but currently earning a living as a defender. He scores goals with his head too, despite his smaller stature. Oh, and he’s more versatile and better than both Barzagli and Bonucci defensively. Just sayin.
Balzaretti – 5.5 – The rating has very little to do with his performance but everything to do with his red card. Federico knows better and allowing an ex-teammate to get under your skin after shoving you to the ground while reacting by slapping the ball is simply a youthful error. Unfortunately, the red card means he will not be available for a very difficult fixture against Milan at the San Siro. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
IliÄŤiÄ‡ â€“ 6.5 – Slowly but surely the real Josip is finding his form. Started off the game a bit cautiously but as it progressed, he began to play well. With his confidence shaken over the past few games, itâ€™s nice to see him play well.
Barreto – 7 – Often, when blanksheets are registered, people will give a lot of the credit to the defense. While that is true, the midfield duo of Edgar and Francesco played a vital role in keeping Siena off the scoreboard. The Paraguayan is a talented, but even more so, intelligent player and Palermo has begun to notice that.
Della Rocca – 7 – If anything has been noted about Della Roccaâ€™s game in these first few games, itâ€™s that there isnâ€™t anything that really catches the eye. Heâ€™s not a glamorous, gritty midfielder in the mold of Nocerino; rather, he does his job by pressing the opposition and wins balls sometimes seemingly unnoticed. It was a good showing from Della Rocca when the squad needed it most.
Bertolo â€“ 6.5 -He was a terror while on the pitch and is trying to make his case to hold on to his starting spot even when Alvarez returns. Mangia will have a tough choice to make against Milan.
Miccoli â€“ 7 â€“ Even though he put only 45 minutes in against Siena, it was his lobbed pass that found the head of Migliaccio to give Palermo the 1-0 lead. Hopefully, the calf strain will not keep him out too long and that heâ€™ll be ready for the San Siro.
Abel Hernandez â€“ 8 â€“ It was a tremendous performance for the Uruguayan. Beyond the goal from the penalty spot, Abel looked like a faster version of Pinilla out there. He was tireless and constantly running throughout the entire game. He was worthy of the praise heaped on him by Mangia and hopefully this is only the sign of things to come.
Zahavi â€“ 6 â€“ The adjustment period to Serie A is beginning to wane. Eran played well despite coming on while Palermo was a man down. He had a fantastic little move to draw the foul that put the game officially to rest in the dying moments of the match.
Mantovani â€“ 7 â€“ The club finally got to see the ex-Pioli pupil in action for the first time this season. Andrea was fantastic. Even though he was initially signed for a CB role, he had experience playing as a fullback and that was on showcase against Siena. Heâ€™s a Serie A veteran and his addition to the back line, with Balzaretti gone, was seamless. Thereâ€™s hope for a post-Balzaretti Palermo yet.
Acquah â€“ 7 â€“ More praise must be thrown in Afriyieâ€™s direction. He came on with 20 minutes left and was excellent. The way he held up the ball and won several corners in the closing minutes of the game was superb. He has reserved some space for himself in this club and it can only get bigger as he matures.
Devis Mangia â€“ 8 â€“ Letâ€™s remember one thing. Mangia said before the game that those who would come on the pitch would play just as an important role â€“ if not more so â€“ than those who started. He was spot on as Zahavi, Mantovani and even Acquah were instrumental in Palermo earning three points.