18th; W6 D14 L18
U.S. Citta di Palermo
Hardly anyone expected Palermo to be caught in the relegation battle at the beginning of this season. However, some errors were made in the transfer market, and more importantly, huge mistakes were made by Palermo's controversial owner, Mauro Zamparini, who continued his practice of changing coaches as often as he changes socks.
Palermo started the season with Giuseppe Sannino, but after only three games Zamparini replaced him with Gian Piero Gasperini. In February, following a loss to Atalanta, Alberto Malesani was called to replace Gasperini. The former Parma and Fiorentina coach lasted just three matches. Gasperini came back. Only 20 days later, he was sacked to make room for Sannino once more. Palermo came full circle. Palermo got relegated to Serie B.
Most significant match
Palermo 1:1 Pescara (10 February 2013)
It's difficult to pick the most significant match in a season so full of disappointments. But, following a string of bad results, not being able to beat the weakest team in the league before a series of much harder matches must have broken the rosanero spirit. Palermo had the majority of possession but created few chances. Even those chances they failed to finish and ultimately conceded 15 minutes before the end. If Palermo weren't panicking before this game, afterward it was clear that staying in Serie A would be hell of a tough task.
It may seem odd to call the most talented player in the squad the biggest surprise, but Iličić often lacks consistency and his previous season wasn't brilliant. This season, however, he turned raw talent into polished quality and we witnessed some real magic from Slovenian. It's a shame that Ilicic's form couldn't help the rosanero stay up, but if there's anything certain about Palermo, it's that Iličić won't be there next season to help them in Serie B.
Again, how do you pick the biggest disappointment in a season like this? Though it may seem harsh on a young player spending his first season away from home, the fact that Dybala cost 12 million Euros and didn't manage to establish himself as a regular first team player -- he racked up just eleven starts -- means that he didn't really live up to expectations. Of course, Dybala's performances weren't helped by the fact that team as a whole was bad.
What needs changing?
A lot. And a lot will be changed. Palermo won't be affected by the Serie B salary cap, but just the fact that they are in Serie B will reduce their budget significantly. They will have to sell, then reinvest in players with enough quality and experience to make an instant comeback to the top level. What this team needs the most is stability, and perhaps a season spent outside Serie A will provide that.
Who's off in the summer?
Many players. Iličić is certain to join a Serie A side, perhaps even a big one - Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina are interested. If that fails, he might be on his way to Russia. Fabrizio Miccoli seems to be destined to leave too, as is Jasmin Kurtić. It's hard to imagine goalie as good as Stefano Sorrentino staying in Serie B next season. Some players like Alejandro Faurlin (QPR), Diego Fabbrini (Udinese), Mauro Boselli (Wigan) and Mauro Formica (Blackburn) are on loan and will most probably return to their parent clubs. It remains to be seen if Abel Hernandez will stay - he has enough quality to play for a bigger club, but his recent long-term injury may have affected his value.
If Palermo could keep one individual...
It seems like il capitano will leave, but the rosanero cling to the slight hope that he'll remain. And it would mean a lot for Palermo - he's not only a quality player but a symbol of the club and a fan favorite. Keeping Miccoli around after such a depressing season could be Palermo's first step towards coming back to Serie A.