Gennaro Gattuso unveiled as new Palermo coach

Maurizio Lagana

Gennaro Gattuso has been unveiled as new Palermo coach, with the former Italian international tasked with winning promotion back to Serie A. This probably won't end well.

Good news for Palermo fans: Gennaro Gattuso has managed to speak at his first press conference as rosanero coach without being fired. He was presented as the Serie B side's new boss beside the president Maurizio Zamparini today, where he rather optimistically spoke of his long-term ambitions.

"I want to stay a long time," Gattuso said, with the assembled press no doubt wincing as they mentally recalled the 25 changes of coaches that have preceded the 35-year-old on the Palermo bench since Zamparini took ownership of the Sicilian club in 2002. He arrives on a one-year contract, with the option of extending for a further two seasons.

"I would have coached Palermo even for free," Gattuso added, taking the opposite line to one of last season's coaches Gian Piero Gasperini, who was so familiar with the firing antics of Zamparini he had a special 'sack clause' which awarded him compensation if he was fired. Which, of course, he was. Twice.

It's Gattuso's first real job as a full-time coach, joining Palermo on the back of a short stint as a player-manager at Swiss club Sion. He was sacked after less than three months, where he worked under an equally hard-to-please chairman. Now tasked with getting the rosanero promoted back to Serie A after their relegation last season, there's a lot of immediate expectation at the Renzo Barbera.

"The enthusiasm of Gattuso was decisive," Zamparini said of the decision to hire such an inexperienced coach. It's a euphemistic 'enthusiasm' which saw Gattuso become notorious in his playing days for an aggressive, no-nonsense approach to his defensive midfield duties, and a stance which could become quickly problematic if he crosses the equally hotheaded president.

Suffice to say, just surviving until the actual start of the season is the first hurdle for Gattuso to try and jump. If he eventually departs without leaving the Stadio Renzo Barbera a raging fireball, there'll be sighs of relief all round.

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