Zamparini defends summer upheavals

01 September 2011 06:30

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has defended the changes he has made at the club this summer, claiming he feared the team would be relegated.

Palermo, who qualified for Europe in each of the past two seasons, have already been knocked out of the Europa League before even the group stages and Zamparini fired coach Stefano Pioli on Wednesday.

Pioli had only taken charge of Palermo's two Europa League matches this season against Swiss side Thun and had not even sat on the bench for a league game as the season is yet to begin due to a player strike.

He was only hired at the end of last season after the Sicilians parted company with Delio Rossi, for the second time in three months.

Since then Zamparini sold playmaker Javier Pastore and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu to Paris St Germain and let Italy international Antonio Nocerino join AC Milan among other changes.

In the meantime he has put the team in the hands of youth team coach Devis Mangia while waiting for Rossi to accept an offer to return for a third stint in charge.

Zamparini, who has overseen 37 coaching changes in 24 years since first buying Venezia in 1987, says he had to act to avoid the drop.

"I thought we would get relegated and that's why I changed coaches straight away," he said.

"I knew this season would be a transitional one but I couldn't say that, I had to say that we were aiming for the Champions League.

"And then both the pre-season preparation and some choices made by the coach worried me and after the (friendly) defeat to Napoli I rang first Rossi and then (Claudio) Ranieri.

"Rossi told me he needed time while Ranieri said he was waiting for an offer from a big club.

"I rang Rossi again and he said he wasn't ready to come back here but maybe he's also waiting for a big club.

"Hence I turned to what we already had 'in house', Devis Mangia and for sure he's not wanting for motivation."

As for selling off his best players, Zamparini claimed he didn't have any choice and criticised the fans who jeered him last week.

"At Palermo we'll never have the type of ambition Napoli have because we can't allow that of ourselves," he said.

"We don't have the same crowds and we don't have the same funds. I'm sorry for the fans but we're already doing our best.

"We had good players who rightly were ambitious both professionally and economically.

"We couldn't force them to stay and the fans need to understand that. Before this club was unknown.

"Now, after what we've done these last few years, even Sicilians who live outside of Italy are proud.

"So I don't know why these protests have begun. I've taken it badly, the jeers after the match against Fenerbahce (another friendly) annoyed me.

"But I'm sure they're coming from just five percent of the fans."

Turning to his sale of Sirigu, who has played for Italy, Zamparini claimed he was glad to be rid of the goalkeeper.

"It was a technical decision to sell him rather than an economic one, he doesn't know how to come off his line.

"When (PSG director of football) Leonardo called me I was doing somersaults of joy knowing that I have another goalkeeper.

"I know football and Sirigu wasn't the right goalkeeper for us."

Source: AFP