We battled hard against Juventus who have been one of the top 2 teams all season. They were dominant the whole game and we certainly have our goalkeeper Urso to thank. A superb team performance to keep a clean sheet, and a very impressive point earned. With our lack of strikers, Nuno Santos started up top. We are looking to fix this problem as soon as possible.
Aldo Gargano Sign's On Loan Until the End of the Season
We found our new striker! Until the end of the season at least. Gargano has been a quality striker this season for Roma scoring 8 goals in 19 appearances. The 23 year old Italian will fill in the gap for the remainder of the season, so we can re-evaluate in at the end of the season. The main reason I wanted to secure this deal, was because we were playing Roma in our next match! I don't know why Mourniho let him come on loan to us, because he was predicted to start the game against us. He is a very quick striker, with great dribbling and passing ability, I am hoping he can contribute in his short spell with us, if he does he will go down in Palermo history, and we may look at signing him again next season.
We are currently in 6th place, with our next game against Roma who sit in 3rd. A win could propel us up to 3rd spot! This is one of the biggest games of our season!
(H) Palermo 3-0 Roma
Gargano came straight into the starting XI and made an instant impact against his parent club! A double from our new striker, followed by a goal from Esedin rounded off an amazing victory. Mourinho must be raging that he let Gargano go. But boy was I happy. I don't care what else he does for the rest of his loan, that performance alone was worth the money. This was a huge victory in our charge for a European position this season!
We then get some more bad news. Another injury. This time Michael Kinglsey broke his ankle, and will also miss the remainder of the season. Luckily centre-midfield is probably our strongest position, and we have a number of replacements who can come in for him. He will be missed as his is one of our best midfielders, but I am hoping we can deal with his loss, without making any more signings.
(H) Palermo 2-1 Verona - Cup Quarter-Final
Roudout came in to replace the injured Kingsley but the rest of the team that beat Roma remained. The scoreline was a lot closer than our performance deserved. A dominant display capped off by goals from Hodges and Roudout. We progress on to the semi-final, but who will we face?
(H) Palermo 1-1 Fiorentina
Fiorentina have always been a tough opponent for us. A fairly even game, where a draw was a fair result. Fiorentina took the lead in the 60th minute by a penalty. Gargano scored again just 8 minutes later and is proving to be a very worthwhile signing.
(A) Bologna 2-5 Palermo
A 7 goal thriller that went in our favour! Bologna lead at half-time 2-1 so I had no choice but to bring out the hair-dryer treatment and blast the team. They came out firing in the second half. Our English winger Hodges scored a hat-trick, with goals also from Joensen and Gargano. Our front 3 were deadly, I am hoping they can continue to bang in goals as we come to the crunchtime of the season.
(H) Palermo 0-0 Torino - Cup Semi-Final Leg 1
Tornio came to our ground and performed very well. We played well defensively, especially after Roudout's second yellow card in the 83rd minute. A tough game, but a draw means that we go to Torino for the second league, needing a goal at least to go through to the final. We would have like to get a home win, but it wasn't to be.
With 4 games left, our next match was against Brescia. They have been playing very well this season and are currently just 3 points behind us, so this is a very important match as we want to finish in the top 4 desperately to qualify for Champions League football next season.
(H) Palermo 0-1 Brescia
This was a tough pill to swallow. We had 61% possession and created 9 shots in the game. Yet Brescia scored a winner in the 91st minute... could our hopes and dreams of finishing in the top 4 be over? We only have 3 games left and it is too close to call right now. But losing this game certainly didn't help our cause.
(A) Torino 0-2 Palermo - Cup Semi-Final Leg 2
A great victory away from home to progress to the Supercoppa Italia Final! Both our wingers scored, Hodges with the first in the 12th minute and Joensen finishing off the game in the 64th minute. A very good victory, but who will we play in the final???
(A) AC Milan 4-0 Palermo
We arrived in Milan with wobbly knees and sweaty palms. The riots were still happening and the team bus was confronted with rocks and flaming spears. The players didn't want to play, but I forced them onto the field, only for them to barely compete. Milan played us off the park and Schmidt had enough and headbutt one of their players in the dying moments of the game. A disappointing loss, but we want to get out of Milan straight away, so the player's left the pitch and got straight onto the team bus. No time for a team-talk or even a shower. We went back to Palermo with our tails between our legs.
As we arrived back in Palermo I was greeted by Martin van Geel with our annual youth intake. Francesco Ciotti was the pick of the bunch, but no players of real ability came through this year.
(H) Palermo 3-1 Sassuolo
A strange game as Sassuolo were the better team. We took a 2-0 lead at the end of half-time, but directly after the break Sassuolo brought one back. Diego Esedin finished of the game in the 73rd minute. He has been quite a revelation in the second half of our season and is certainly a player to look out for moving forward.
With 1 game remaining in the season we sit in 5th place. Brescia are just above us, but we are on the same points. If we finish the season 5th we will play in the Europa League next season, so we are desperate for a top 4 finish.
To make things even more tense we have a 28 day break before the final game! Our last game of the season is against Verona away. Brescia play league champions Inter Milan. On paper it looks promising for us, but as we all know football is a crazy game and anything can happen. We are on the verge of something amazing with Palermo, in an unbelievable season.
(A) Verona 0-1 Palermo
In the final game of the season, a 12th minute goal from Pol Joensen was enough to secure the 1-0 victory. We were keeping an eye on the Brescia game as our game played out, and Brescia led against Inter early on. But Inter fought back and ended up winning the game. This meant....
We finished the season in 4th position! This is Palermo's highest finish in the club history! A crazy season, with lots of highs and lows, but ultimately our best season at the club, and one to be very proud of.
Palermo secure Champions League qualification!
It is official! Palermo will be competing in the highest competition in Europe next season. We have well and truly resurrected Palermo and taken them to the next stage. This is very exciting for the club and the fans, although it will come with challenges with the increased fixtures, demanding more from our players and our squad as a whole. The next pre-season is crucial as we must secure more players and build the squad to be even stronger.
I was also awarded with the Manager of the Year Award for my superb season with the club. I am so proud to win this award and to be able to bring success back to this great club, I am hooping to continue building and progress the club for many more years to come! This is just the beginning of what I want to achieve. An amazing way to cap of a decade with Palermo.
Our season isn't over yet though, as we still have the Supercoppa Italia (Italian Cup Final) to play against league champions Inter Milan!
Unfortunately for the final Joensen and Migliaccio were suspended, D'Emanuele and Ngongang were also injured. This meant we couldn't field our strongest team. Brobbey was back and fit so I had to decide between him and Gargano, and I felt Brobbey deserved to start as he is a permanent Palermo player, and was banging in the goals before his injury. Squillaci is our weak point, as he has barely played this season. Nuno Santos is lucky to get the nod too. Can the boys step up and bring home the silverware?
Palermo v Inter Milan - Supercoppa Italia Final
Palermo 0-1 Inter Milan - Supercoppa Italia Final
A hard fought game resulted in the cup going to Inter Milan. Mattia Franzoso scored the only goal of the game in the 25th minute. The boys played well and did everything they could to win the match but it just wasn't to be. We will not let this dampen our fantastic season. We did very well to even make the final this year!
Our final results in the second half of our season. Overall I am very pleased.
Player Stats this Season:
Our English winger had a very good second season with the club. 11 goals and 3 assists in all competitions has attracted some attention from other clubs. Sadly Hodges spoke to me at the end of the season and told me he wants to leave. I will do everything I can to keep him at the club, but potentially we could have seen the last of Anthony in a Palermo shirt. He has served the club well, and if a high enough bid comes in I will have to let him go, as I don't want players at the club that will disrupt the dressing room, especially with next season being so important in the clubs history.
Brian Brobbey really found form this season, and was really unfortunate to pick up such a bad injury. He scored a total of 11 goals in 21 games, and his goals will be very important for us next season, although we already have two experienced goal scorers coming in as their contract's expire at other clubs. Brobbey could be utilized as a left winger next season if Hodges leaves, however he will certainly be an important player next year too regardless of the position he plays.
The Belgian midfield had a very good season this year. An average rating of 7.08 in 27 appearances picking up 8 assists and 2 goals. We had a very good midfield and Roudout was often the heart of that. He was one of our first big money signings and he is continuing to be a great investment for the club. He will be licking his lips at playing Champions League football next season.
This guy has been nothing less than amazing since we signed him. I could nominate him for Player of the Season every year. He continues to get better and better and at just 27 he still has his best years to come as a GK. This season in 43 appearances he conceded just 46 goals! Roma have come in with bids for him all season, but he will be our number 1 for many years to come. He really is a true Palermo legend already playing 200 games for the club!
End of Season Awards
Surprisingly our loan player Runje won Fan's Player of the Season. He never really stood out for me, but he was consistent and clearly the fans appreciated his performances for the club. Nico Schmidt was Signing of the Season (although he didn't score or assist a goal?...) Runje also won Young Player of the Season. A strange set of awards, and none of them relative to what I would have selected. Might make a new feature next season; 'Sempys End of Season Awards'.
Goal of the Season: Esedin v Roma
The club vision next season is a mid-table finish. We have now set the standard of qualifying for Champions League so realistically we would like to do it again next year. Hopefully the Milan fiasco is over as they ended up securing a mid-table finish. Next season will be interesting as Runje and Gargano's loans end, Verratti and Promes are retiring. We must bring in at least four players to replace those four, but we must also strengthen our depth as we will have more games. Bids will likely come in for our better players too so I am sure it is going to be a very busy summer. But what a season, the best so far, and the Palermo journey continues!
As always, thanks for reading!