BLOG ITALIA
Thursday April 14 2011
The Disappointed

Giancarlo Rinaldi on three teams who have under-performed this season – Genoa, Palermo and Fiorentina

Red and purple and pink and blue. It might sound like that terrible song about singing a rainbow, but this season in Serie A they have been the colours of disappointment. Who among Fiorentina, Genoa and Palermo fans can claim to have had the campaign which least lived up to their expectations?

With half a dozen matches left to play, none of them is likely to make it into the top seven spots in the League nor be troubled by relegation. They are surrounded by sides in mid-table who, by and large, made no secret of the fact that their target at the start of the season was simply survival. All three of this underachieving trio were aiming much higher.

For the Sicilians, this term has had more highs and lows than a yodeller's song book. They still have the hope of the Coppa Italia at least, but at one stage they looked like genuine contenders for a Europa League placing in the table at the very least. That was before they started to give away goals with a generosity which would make Father Christmas blush.

But this is a young side with the most volcanic President in Serie A. Maurizio Zamparini throws more tantrums than a nursery kid whose been told he won't get any cake after dinner. He has almost single-handedly made sure that if Delio Rossi ever writes his memoirs they will become a calcio best-seller.

Yet it would be a shame if amidst all the presidential petulance and calamitous collapses, the club lost sight of the good things they have done this year. On their game, the Rosanero are a pretty irresistible force and can rip apart almost any rival. With a little maturity, patience and the development of a tactical Plan B they can grow into Champions League contenders once more.

That lofty height was a stated goal for the Grifoni in the summer. Their transfer campaign was widely admired as likely to deliver their highest League finish in a long time. But, as has often happened in their recent history, somewhere or another the wheels came off along that road.

The talk of making Gian Piero Gasperini part of the fixtures and fittings at the Stadio Marassi was quickly ditched when points dried up. And, while Davide Ballardini steadied the ship somewhat, he has hardly lit up the port city with his team's performances. They have the look of the classic team which was revolutionised in the summer when all it needed was a more gentle adjustment.

And finally there is Fiorentina. From the sparkling machine which dazzled in the Champions League, they have become the most plodding of Serie A performers. Injuries to key players and a change of Coach have been an alibi but it is starting to wear thin. The Viola have, by and large, been more tedious than a lunch spent listening to the self-justifying spin of Luciano Moggi.

They have the air of a team at the end of an era which was perhaps kept together one season too many. Juan Manuel Vargas, Alberto Gilardino and Riccardo Montolivo are all being linked with pastures new and it might be best to reluctantly cash in and build for the future. A new side can be constructed around Stevan Jovetic if he returns from injury the same player he was last year. Questions must remain, however, as to whether Sinisa Mihajlovic is the right man to lead these renovation works.

But while it would be easy for the Viola, Grifoni and Rosanero to see the glass as half-empty, they should not give up all hope. There are elements which all three sides can build upon to create teams capable of much better next term. If nothing else, they should realise that things could be much worse – they could, after all, be in Sampdoria's position.

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