The Squadfather – A Sicilian Tale – Palermo – Back in the Big Time

A balmy Sunday evening in the Sardegna Arena, plays host to the first Isole Derby in Serie A in a while. Man of the Match winner Cesc Franco and goal scorer Pietro Pellegri are chatting to Sky Sport Italia presenter Gianluca Vialli. Vialli asks how Palermo did not win by more, considering they dominated possession and had the chances.

Palermo starlet Franco responds. “Abbiamo giocato una partita solida e siamo tornati al nostro stile ritmico di passaggio rispetto alla nostra ultima partita contro la Juventus. Ci siamo divertiti molto là fuori e abbiamo dimostrato che il capo ci dà fiducia per giocare con la palla. Abbiamo avuto diverse solide possibilità, ma a volte si ottiene solo uno che va oltre il portiere. Siamo molto grati a Pietro che era nel posto giusto al momento giusto in un momento della partita in cui cominciavamo a chiederci se avremmo mai segnato”.

*Please note I have tried to interpret the response into English. (there are similar passages in this post).

We played a solid game and went back to our rhythmic passing style compared to our last game against Juventus. We had a lot of fun out there and showed that the boss gives us confidence to play with the ball. We had several solid chances, but sometimes you only get one that goes beyond the goalkeeper. We are very grateful to Peter who was in the right place at the right time at the right time when we were beginning to wonder if we would ever score.”

Cesc Franco – Palermo Wonderkid in the making

Vialli then asks Pellegri, how do you feel after scoring your first of the campaign? Pietro goes on to say, “Sono molto felice di poter andare avanti e avere un impatto. Segnare in un importante derby e per quel gol dimostrare di essere il vincitore è una grande sensazione. Spero che il capo possa riporre più fiducia in me perché so di poter essere un talismano per Palermo”.

“I’m very happy to be able to move forward and make an impact. To score in a major derby and for that goal to prove you are the winner is a great feeling. I hope the boss can put more faith in me because I know I can be a talisman for Palermo.”

Jorge Garcia waves and cheers to the Rosanero faithful who had travelled from Sicily to Sardinia for one last time before shaking hands with Gianluca Vialli. Vialli says, you came to Sardinia with a point to prove and boy you showed everyone what your team can do. How did the game go from your perspective?

“Grazie Gianluca. Abbiamo trascorso le ultime settimane tornando alle basi in allenamento, concentrandoci sulle cose più piccole per garantire che i ragazzi fossero pronti per una partita di questa portata. Abbiamo dimostrato grande forza e carattere per continuare a bussare alla porta di Cagliari, e rimanere concentrati sul retro. Qualcosa che siamo caduti fallo nella nostra ultima partita contro la Vecchia Signora. Sono felice che siamo stati in grado di giocare il marchio del calcio abbiamo fatto un punto di giocare fin dal primo giorno. E vincere in Sardegna è una dichiarazione massiccia sul ritorno in Serie A. A volte cercavamo disperatamente che la palla andasse in porta. E questi due ragazzi hanno mostrato il loro carattere da creare e segnare, quando noi in panchina stavamo cominciando a mordere le unghie. Per quanto riguarda Sergio (che ha mancato un rigore nel primo tempo), sa che sarebbe potuto andare dall’altra parte. Ma personalmente biasimo i sardi per alcune parti terribili del campo, in particolare i punti di penalità. Vive per combattere un altro giorno.”

“Thank you Gianluca. We’ve spent the last few weeks getting back to basics in training, focusing on the smaller stuff to make sure the boys are ready for a game of this magnitude. We showed great strength and character to keep knocking on Cagliari’s door, and stay focused on the back. Something we fell foul on in our last game against the Old Lady. I’m happy that we were able to play the brand of football we made a point of playing from day one. And winning in Sardinia is a massive statement about returning to Serie A. Sometimes we were desperate for the ball to go in goal. And these two guys showed their character to create and score when we on the bench were starting to bite our nails. As for Sergio (who missed a penalty in the first half), he knows he could have gone the other way. But I personally blame the Sardinians for some terrible parts of the pitch, particularly the penalty points. He lives to fight another day.”

Vialli then asks Does your team have the guts to fight relegation? Garcia promptly says, “Certo! Potresti farci scendere come uno dei tre per scendere, ma non lo facciamo. Abbiamo la convinzione di stabilizzarci in Serie A nelle prossime stagioni, penso anche che sorrerdiamo qualche scettico lungo il percorso”

“Of course! You could drop us off as one of the three to get off, but we don’t. We have the belief to stabilize in Serie A in the coming seasons, I also think we support some skeptics along the way”

This was our fifth match of season 2022/23. We had so far managed to win two, draw one and lose two. We had drawn the opening game of the season, away against Udinese. Lost at home to Ac Milan, then Beat Empoli at home and then lost narrowly at home to Juventus. The loss against Juventus was still a bitter taste in the mouth as we had snatched a lead in the 65th minute through lonnee Harvey White. But two late goals, one from Luis Suarez in the 88th minute and the other from Paulo Dybala in the 900th minute (Fergie time) were the killer blows. We then went into the first Isole Derby of the season with a point to prove and desperate of points to establish a decent start to life in Serie A.

I know I can hear you say. What happened to season 2021/22? You haven’t updated me on that season.

Hmmm, Okay then.

We embarked on an eleven-match preseason schedule. We started in Palermo against local team CUS Palermo where I learned nothing in our 8-0 demolition job of them and our final friendly was a 3-0 win against Fc Messina. Very little was learned in preseason, but I did get most of the squad upto match fitness for the opener. The opener in Serie B was a home match against local rivals Trapani, we won 3-0 with goals from Angileri, Bonazzoli and loanee Vignato.

We would then win our next three matches to win four out of four. Our fifth match in Serie B was away to Perugia. They won 1-0 in a match were neither side could really shoot straight.

Yet its our third match of Serie B that is my first key game marked as a highlight. It was a trip to Turin to play Juventus U23’s. Those who have a good memory will remember that we the first loss for Garcia in the pre season of 2019 was to Juventus U 23’s where we dominated play but conceded a breakaway goal scored by Irdissa Toure. Garcia hadn’t forgotten about the previous encounter and made sure that the Palermo squad were more than ready to battle for the ball against the Zebra youths. “Dobbiamo essere i primi ad ogni palla! Dobbiamo andare là fuori con orgoglio e mostrare loro che abbiamo sviluppato! Che non solo meritiamo di essere sullo stesso campo, ma siamo meglio di loro, ora! Vai a fare questo per me!”

“We have to be first with every ball! We have to go out there with pride and show them that we have developed! That not only do we deserve to be on the same field, but we’re better than them now! Go do this for me!” Was the cry from the dressing room before the match. The match was close, both teams battle to control the game and neither really backed down. Palermo’s opening goal came indirectly from a corner. The ball was initially crossed into the box but was deflected back to Vignato. Vignato then squared the ball to Ambro, who then squared the ball to Michelotti. He then passed to Bonazzoli who was free to the right of the Juventus area. Bonazzoli then drilled his shot at goal and past the keeper. The relief was immense. But the battle was not over yet.

Juventus would have as much of the ball as the Rosanero, but it would be the Rosanero who would seek to make the most chances at goal.

The second goal would come late in the second half. A short throwing near the byline from Rispoli would be met by the calm feet of Angileri. Angileri then dinked the ball to Bonazzoli who crossed the ball into the six-yard box. Under pressure from Loanee Cangiano, Juventus defender Dario Del Fabrio haplessly knocked the ball past his own keeper and into the goal to make the scoreline 2-0 to Palermo.

After the Perugia match we dusted ourselves down and won the next two league matches, Then the visit of Parma in the Renzo Barbera saw Parma pick our pockets and take the three points. Former Rosanero Alessio Piazza scoring the winner. Despite a fight back from our boys in pink, we just couldn’t get the third goal needed for a draw.

We then navigated through the October wobble of one win and two draws to go on a lossless streak until the Coppa Italia 3rd round match against Inter just before Christmas.

The Giuseppe Meazza was an eery atmosphere with on 16,000 spectators. We lost comprehensively 4-0 to a young but strong Inter. Arp bagged a brace, Asensio and Politano scoring the goals. The result somewhat flattered our hosts as we had much more of the ball and even had our own chances. So how did they score four when we had been so tight at the back against most teams in Serie B? How did they score the four? And more importantly how did we not score? The first gif below shows us creating the first chance of the game.

Here Esposito (on loan from Inter) is the high pivot, playing as a Centre Forward. He receives the ball deep in the oppositions half, turns and sprays it wide for Barreal (our Left inside forward) to drive and attack the Inter defence, utilising the space between the right fullback and right centre back. Fortunately (or unfortunately) Inter’s goalkeeper is on hand to shut down the one on one and nullify the shot.

The next gif is Inter’s first goal. Fiete Arp scores what looks like a text book goal against a team with only one centre back. As you can see he receives the ball in space, as he is behind the fullback and wide of the centre back. He then drives towards goal and shoots. What isn’t quite show due to Sky Italia being rubbish with their highlights editing, is that the ball is saved and hits the post. But Arp is the only one alert to follow the shot up and score a simple tap in.

The next highlight is showing how we generally play from back to front. It first shows Palermo lose the ball centrally, then defend the counter attack, to then break fast to create our own attack which results in a missed one on one.

Match Stats from the Coppa Italia match against Inter.

This loss was followed by another. The return league fixture against Top of the Table rivals Parma. We lost 3-0. Once again, we were victim to the speed and accuracy of Alessio Piazza.

I took these losses on the chin and urged the boys to up their performances. We then went on a ten-match lossless streak where we won nine and drew one, the one being away to Verona.

The run came to an end through a 2-1 loss, away to Lecce. But we then picked ourselves up again to win six of the last seven matches of the season.

Thank you for reading this update.

#calcio, #football-manager-20, #sicilian

The SquadFather – A Sicilian tale – Palermo – An Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman oh and Robinho are in a Sicilian bar.

We embarked our campaign in Serie C Girone A with jubilation. Satisfied that we had met the clubs vision to win Serie D Girone I. However, the jubilation and celebrations were cut short. With little money in the bank we were forced to let a large number of players leave after running down their contracts, also with the volume of loanees on the books (mainly key first team players) we were left with a very depleted squad.

We used every inch of available resource to scout players from Italy, Argentina (due to our affiliation with Velez) and other parts of Europe due to 1st team coach David Platt. Note due to small funds we also had to play smart with the scouting budget. We were given £45k for the year to scout talent suitable not only for the first team but to also try and bring in young players with potential for the future of the club. We switched on the scouting range to world wide for a week and in that time we also scoured the free market.

When I found a potential signing rather than spending money on a scout to tell whether a player would be good enough or not. We would invite the player on trial and see how they would fit within the club. And if deemed suitable we would then look to offer them a contract.

Using this method of face to face scouting saw players like Michelle Rocca out of contract at Sampdoria join the Rosanero, along with the likes of former Milan youth player Michael Fabbro, former Sassuolo midfielder Giovanni Sbrissa, and former Benevento midfielder Giovanni Volpicelli.

Volpicelli would emerge as one of the surprise packages of the season producing 7 goals in 27 matches along with pulling in 5 man of the match awards. Despite the grumpy demeanour, the heart and determination of the player really shone through especially during the mid season dip of form.

The Englishman.

During my summer of searching endlessly (three weeks in total) I came across recently out of contract former Manchester Reds* player Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The left back’s technical and physical ability were clear to see and I believed he could help plug a gap on the left following Crivello’s departure to Leeds Utd. However, Cameron was still living in cloud cuckoo-land thinking he could demand Manchester Reds style wages. With our fingers burnt a little we left this deal, but I did leave a note to track his movements to see if he did get signed up by anyone willing to pay £12k per week.

*I am calling Manchester United, Manchester Reds just incase they read my post, this way they should not beable to force me to pull down my posts (lol).

FM Brookyn November 2019, following all the removal of kit graphic packs of some community sites.

During the October blues aka when we suffered a blip in form one of my notable reasons for looking at Cameron Borthwick-Jackson again was due to the lack of form and consistency from Tom Furtado ( A Brazilan left back we got for free from Alverca (Portugal)). We saw that Cameron was still available and offered him a second trial. After seeing his star rating against Furtado, we plumped to offer him a contract. This time he accepted our offer of sunshine and £1.7k per week, a fair drop in what he had originally expected back in the summer but I can only assume the time away from a club helped him realise that there is more to life than a hefty cheque every month. Another notable thing was the height of Borthwick Jackson, he stands at 190cm which also meant we would have a big target to aim for with corners.

The Scotsman.

Seeing Liam Henderson in Italy is not a new thing. He joined Bari from Celtic back in 2017. And from there he then moved to Hellas Verona the following year due to Bari going through some financial problems of their own. He is still at Verona, but 2020 would see him join the Rosanero for guaranteed first team football, albeit on loan. The first few months he was none existent due to an injury he sustained after his first friendly appearance. He would be out until November, but due to making sure he could not be recalled in the deal to bring him to Palermo, we were left to nurse him better rather than send him back to his parent club. Liam would go on to have an impact in midfield forging a decent central partnership with Volpicelli. Liam played 20 matches scoring 5 goals and assisting 4 times.

The Irishman.

The January sales can be a strange yet liberating thing, especially on Football Manager. After having our scouts switched of to minimise costs until December I knew I needed to look for some better quality players for in midfield. Sbrissa and Rocca were to inconsistent and struggled to show much even as impact subs. So with the scouts fired up, I set to the task to find one or two better midfielders to take a look at along with a back up winger, a back up left back and a forward who could score.

Two midfielders came up who matched my desires to improve our quality in midfield but I never thought either would join. First was form Palermo midfielder Antonio Fiordilino. The playmaker had had a stop start season with Venezia only starting in two matches due to an injury hit season. We offered him a trial which he accepted, but when we offer to loan him Venezia were not so keen despite the player expressing a desire to come and blow the cobwebs with us. We put a second offer of loan in on deadline day for the deal to get accepted.

During the mix of this I also noticed that Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane was available on transfer and or loan. I had also noticed that he had only played five matches in the last season and a half, with little time on the injury table. Clearly Conor had fallen down the pecking order at Villa. I offered him a trial and Villa and the player accepted. Conor obviously looked a million time better than anyone else in the side, but I knew that I could not offer much in terms of wages as the fella was on over £30k a week. I cheekily offer noting but for a straight loan of the player, and strangely they accepted. Conor went on to get a tan and in that time play in 13 matches, score 7, assist 4 and get a recall to the Irish national side.

A Brazilian called Robinho.

I forgot to get a picture of him before he hung his boots to show off this attributes (Bugger!)

Robinho joined the Rosanero in January 2021 and would see life in Sicily before hanging up his boots for the last time. His technical and mentals were out of this world compared to the bulk of the squad, yet he had seriously lost all physicals. He would only play five times and score once, a last minute penalty against Lecco on his debut. His time was mainly spent teaching our next big thing a few tricks, Cesc Franco certainly enjoyed his time around Robinho, fingers crossed he uses his new knowledge in conjunction with his development.

So after a backward way in telling you how things went during 2020/21 we only went and surpassed expectation, and won the league!

We were tipped by the bookies to come second and the board were expecting a top five finish, but I had noted that only the top team progresses upwardly out of the league. And boy did we have a challenge. I totally disregarded the Coppa di Italia Serie C, by fielding the youngsters and subs who didn’t feature much in the league. We lost 2-1 to a gutsy Carrarese who ended up 14th in our league.

Pro Vercelli, Novara, Benevento and Salernitana all provided stiff competition during the season, Only Benevento would beat us out of the big four gunning for the for the title during the campaign. They beat us 3-0 away early in February.

The disappointment of the season was the big wobble during October and November which came after the cup defeat. Looking back I can only assume the change of personnel for that match and assertive feedback after the match upset the dressing a little. And after tweaking here and there with the tactic, I ended up stripping things out to readdress some imbalances I had caused with tweaking.

So last season we went with the below WM tactic. And we pretty much continued with the same until the away match in Como in December.

During the wobble I stripped a few layers off, after adding things in and found the solution to be the below. It is fundamentally the same but with less team instructions, which leaves the players with a little more room for personal adaptation during the match. Another major thing we now do is look to regroup rather than counter press. @merryguido wrote a piece about how regrouping helps to counter the issue of the AI using long through balls. And with this tactic relying on just the one centre back, we need to give this position as much armour as possible. We still aim on being narrow and press high to recover the ball as early as possible, as the out of possession instructions have not altered. Positionally there have been no changes but the roles have been altered. The wingers have gone and we now ask the wide men to come inside as either an inverted winger or inside forward. This is to provide more options inside the box with the focus of the team working the ball into the box to engineer a chance at goal. The two central midfielders (for now) are Mezzala’s one on attack to join the forwards in the box and the second to provide a dynamic playmaking role. The central defender is now a ball playing defender in a hope that when the two defensive players are occupied with an opponent and not free to receive the ball he will look to seek the free midfielder himself rather than putting the team in unnecessary danger.

There have been interesting moments of play…Below the team hound Como into a mistake where Bonazzoli (our CFa) steal a loose pass between two Como players he then counters forward into Como’s half…..

Bonazzoli’s driving run takes him into the box, with a Como defender running toe to toe in a bid to prevent a shot. Bonazzoli stops and passes back to Lucera who squares a pass to D’Amico who slots home a cool shot.

It is moments like these why I have really started to enjoy this save.

Next season will see us compete in Serie B, I’ll update our progress through Twitter and post on here next when I have something more interesting to witter on about.

If you wish to try this tactic I have made it available in the Steam workshop and if the link is working see below.

Ciao for now.

The Squadfather – A Sicilian Tale – Palermo – Shapeshifter

Following on from the last post where I briefly mentioned the thought of playing with a WM formation in FM20 due to a lack of defenders in the playing squad at Palermo. This episode will outline the results of the 2019/20 season and delve into the tactic we used.

Our Preseason kicked off in earnest mood on the west side of Sicily. Marsala were our opposition who were fellow campaigners in Serie D Girone I. The starting formation was the WM and with the tactic taking a standing start in FM20 I had know idea how we were going to play. The result did not flatter us at all (4-0) and the game stats suggested that we had looked to play with possession, but with that we were not just knocking the ball about in our own half, we were camped outside the oppositions penalty area looking to cultivate chances in the box. The heat map and avg position for the starting 11 are highlighted below. Along side that the heat map/avg position of both teams shows how Marsala looked intent on defending their box from the off albeit with little effect. And our match stats highlight clear dominance with a lot of attempts at goal, 73% possession and a high level of complete passes.

After the success of the first friendly I decided to venture forward with the WM and see if I could learn and develop it further from the bones of the tactic which was used in FM19. We welcomed Juventus Under 23 side who themselves are not just some kids team donning the zebra stripes of Turin but are one tier above us in the Italian football pyramid. They are situated in Serie C Girone A.

Still with little reference point we started the match with the same formation. The fifth minute produced the only goal of the match. Defensive midfielder Idrissa Toure scoring from a shot from just on the edge of the area. The rest of this match would see Palermo play in similar areas of the pitch to the Marsala match, only with out the penetration or killer blow. Once again, I was impressed with our ability to keep the ball and look threatening even if on this occasion we just couldn’t score from our efforts. Also, despite the goal conceded I was impressed with our defensive shape. Our lone centre back looking like a sweeper behind a back four, even though the two defensive midfielders are playing the role of anchors. The rest of preseason went as predicted. We would outshine our opposition and, in some cases, bully them for the ball with our high press then break fast to cut back and slot home a shot to goal.

The other friendly that stood out for me was the massive fixture against Hertha BSC. I have no idea why they would play against a lowly side in the fourth tier of Italian football but then did. And for me I was expecting them to tear us apart with their superior fitness and ability. Instead we went toe to toe with them. Unlike the matches against teams that are at our level this match really gave me some food for though as the match played out. Just like the Juventus match we conceded early. In the eighth minute a long ball to Ondrej Duda would land on his foot, and with the space in front of him he would drive to the edge of the area before shooting at goal and scoring. My fears were aligned I knew we would concede either through a long ball or the counterattack. As the weakness of the tactic is the space that is left behind once we advance into our attacking phases. We also look to leave the lone central defender very isolated. I looked to reduce the attacking intent of the two fullbacks by switching them to defend rather than support. This would be our only change, apart from personnel for fitness and match practice reasons. I noted that we were a complete mix of struggle and surprise. As I expected Hertha to blow us off the park. Instead we played well defensively, but we just lacked the ability to turn our passing passages into surmountable attacks. We lost 1-0. And despite the limp attacking I came away from the match thinking we could build from the experience of only being narrowly beaten by a Bundesliga Ein team. The complete results of preseason are below.

Our domestic league season started on the 17th of August 2019 in the southern mainland city of Palmi to play against Palmese. We would win 4-0. And dominate the match with our possession of the ball and variation of passing in order to create an opportunity at goal. The below shows three of the four goals scored in the opening fixture of Serie D.

The opening fixture was the start of a magical winning streak which saw the Rosanero pull of an impressive 18 matches won consecutively. The run would come to a halt after a 0-0 away draw to Marina di Ragusa.

A much changed back three would see back up players Francesco Vaccaro and Massimiliano Doda play in the full back positions and our usual right back Andrea Accardi deputise in the centre back role. The lack of game time and fluidity of the tactic could have been a contributing factor to our struggle.

Accardi and Roberto Crivello had become untouchable in the starting eleven in the fullback positions, both had shown a growth of development since the preseason friendlies and both had started to show sign of a working relationship with their more advanced wingers. Crivello had got that big in his boots he refused to sign a new contract and was playing like he was looking to show what he could do for any suitors. Leeds Utd would come in and offer him more than what I could dream of offering. But we would have the second half of the season to get the best out of Crivello.

Back to the disappointment of Marina Ragusa. As you can see, we were dominant, we were just very wasteful in front of goal.

We would dust ourselves down and get back on the winning horse for the next five matches. Yet the 1-0 win at home against Savoia would yet again show a great deal of frustration as we were nearly FM’d. My understanding of the term “to be FM’d” is that you outperform the opposition yet struggle to win or just lose for no apparent reason, SI would say that it happens in real life. But to be honest for me a win is a win and thank fuck – fully we did not lose. But we did have 72% of possession and restrict Savoia to just the two shots yet somehow our own shooting was wayward. In the end we relied on a spot kick to break the deadlock.

Our league campaign then went on a mid-season wobble. Where we first struggled with the concept of playing two matches inside four days and then actually struggled to play well in the same four days. Personally, I think the 20.2.0 patch was released around this point and I think it caused the wobble, but thankfully we ground out two draws. This would see us continue our unbeaten run.

The next match I have focussed on is the 3-2 away victory against Giugliano. The result not only marked the date when we became Champions of Serie D Girone I, it was also the first time in the league we were seriously tested. In fact we were 2-0 down in the first half despite the dominance of possession. This match would see us fight for the title by fighting for three points. And winning from a losing position had never been asked of us during the season so far. The makeshift team of Marang Bubacarr in central defence along with the likes of Juan Mauri, and the rather Palermo named Rosario Tornetta playing on the right wing. The team playing in this match was certainly a mish mash of players as I had felt the usual starters had become a little complacent during the wobble. However, it was the introduction of my usual starters which instigated the fight back and sealed the title. Some would say it was clever management others would say we were very lucky.

So, we technically won the title with out losing a match. But the true story shows we still had our party heads on for the trip to Messina (The very next match). We go off to a good start with the Leeds bound left back Roberto Crivello scoring for the Rosanero. But the wheels of the party bus came off in the second half and Messina would score a brace to inflict our only defeat of the Serie D campaign.

We finished the last four fixtures playing like Champions, only with our focus switched on. This was partly due to our need to remain focussed for our cup run. In the Coppa Italia Serie D. This competition started back in September when we beat Inveruno 2-0. And the momentum of our season combined saw us progress through to the final even past a tricky quarter final against Savoia could not stops us from reaching the final.

The final was conveniently held at the Renzo Barbera (Home to Palermo) and due to the focus of the League being sewn up so early we were able to nurse the squad through to this fixture, which would allow me to pick my strongest side. We were up against Marina di Ragusa, the side which were the first to take points off us earlier in the season. However, our confidence was high after beating them 2-0 seven days earlier in our final league match of the season.

We took the lead in the 11th minute through a penalty an Alessandro Martinelli would once again be the man with the pendulum strike into the bottom left corner, he had deceived the keeper with his eyes. Well that is what the lads on the pitch said, I was too busy screaming at the team to work harder! We went on to win 4-1. Which would put us as double champions for the 2019/20 season.

Then weirdly just as I was thinking we would need to start the long process of post and preseason. We got entered into the Serie D Poule Scudetto. Which roughly means the Serie D Champions hen tournament. Or Top Cock of Serie D.

We were put in a group against Follonica Gavorrano who won Girone E and Mestre who won Girone C. We drew 0-0 against Mestre and somehow managed to win 1-0 against Follonica. My 17yr old left winger coming to the rescue with the all-important goal in the 89th minute. But Mestre would go on to beat Follonica 2-0 which meant Mestre would finish top of the group, we fortunately went through as the highest point scoring runner up.

Our Semi final was upagainst Turris who had won Girone G and been very strong in their group and had won both of those matches. The semi-final was an outstandingly oneside match. We won 6-0 and I’m sure it could have been more. Martinelli once again showed his class by grabbing the game by the horns, scoring two and assisting two.

The final came and we were upagainst Mestre again. This time I went with the underused Mauri in defensive midfield to add a bit of bite, and the bite nearly took my hand off. Mauri got a yellow card in the 27th minute and then spent the next 15 minutes fouling at every opportunity. I took him off and put the cooler head of Danilo Ambro into midfield, and asked Mendola to switch back into a half back role.

 The move work and just before half time Soule scored the opening goal. Buoyed with the breakthrough I urged the team for more of the same, insisting that they had to bring home this title for the fans. They pep talk worked as Raimondo Lucera scored in the 49th minute to double our lead. We then put the game to bed through another Martinelli penalty and a last minute Lucera goal was struck to make sure the Mestre heart was no longer beating.

After a trophy filled season the team will find itself in Serie C for next season. With the club now dreaming of Serie B.

Below is the bones of the WM formation I have adopted. I have added a download link below if you did wish to try playing FM20 with barely any defenders. Do note one or two roles may differ between the download and the image below.

Before I go and enjoy the Christmas haze of Sicily, the next post will come in the new year and will give a more comprehensive update of the playing squad. As I have no money to spend (thus far) and know most of the team will be moving on or returning to their parent team. I also hope to start charting how the tactic is working (if we continue with it) and how it has faired verses the 2019/20 side which has just won a treble.

I am keen to see if a tactical guru like @Guido Merry or even @The Reckonist on how they would look to improve the WM. The obvious weaknesses are the fear of being beaten on the counter. But at times I think the focus on possession sometimes hinders the sides ability to score. But saying that I do have a fourth tier Italian side, and if we can continue to improve the playing staff there is no reason why the performances cannot improve.

Ciao for now!

The Squadfather – A Sicilian tale – Palermo – Rules, people and places


The pink should be so bright, yet it is a funny shade of grey. Is an expression I thought of when I hit my head against the desk for the hundredth time. And here is why.

Palermo are situated in Serie D. A league I have no previous experience of before this save. Yes, I have managed in Italy, but this seems different and restrictive due to a number of factors.

The obvious rules in this league are straight forward. Three points for a victory, one point for a daw and no points for a loss.

It is the other match rules that could trip us up as we go through the season which I had not seen or heard of before starting this save.

We are allowed to name nine subs, and even field five if necessary. That sounds great, I could give players valuable game time especially when winning, you know when your star forward has scored a few and you feel he could do with a rest before the next big match.

However, the match rules also state that I must field. Yes, field not just name on the bench, one under 18 player, at least three under 19 players and there must be at least four under 20 players. This would be easy if I had four 17-year olds who I felt could do the job, but I don’t. I have a squad of mixed ages where some of the twenty somethings are not able to be picked because I have to play a minor in their position instead. Now, I know part of this save will be about player development, in particular youth development, but the restriction is very unforgiving. If my 17-year-old winger gets injured. I can only replace him with another 17-year-old, regardless of their position. This has therefore made me shift to the under 20’s and under 18’s for players to sit on the bench as a just in case rather than have better players play in the side or even act as cover.

Now I know I am just moaning and as yet this rule has not posed to much of a problem, but I live in hope that we avoid any serious or multiple injures as I fear for the future if we do get a cruel hand of fate.


Below is how the squad shaped up for the 2019/20 season. The guys ran through customs being asked name, position, age and nationality. You will see a mix of ages, ranging from sweet sixteen through to the grand age of thirty eight. Our average age of the squad (due to the extremes at both ends of the scale) is 23 years old.

The squad shot above shows you the playing staff we have at our disposal. Thirty-one players are on the list and eleven are loanees. The only permanent signature we have made is Luigi Mendola from Vibonese for £130k. We had him on loan from the start of the season but took the opportunity to bring him back to the club for the long term. Luigi is actually a Palermo youth product who was released during the crazy restructure in the summer of 2019. I see his promise and I am keen to bring local players back if they are good enough. This money was made available due to the sale of Raimondo Lucera. The lure of big time football will always sway the mind of a young player. And whilst we are in Serie D I cannot get in the way of a young player seeking to better his career. However, I can make sure that the deal is in our favour. In this case we managed to get £250k off Udinese and manage to secure a loan deal until the end of the season.


When I looked at the initial squad of players when I first contemplated Palermo as a save, my first thought was, Shit! We have no defenders! And in some respect we still haven’t despite the club bringing in five loanees under Garcia’s leadership. With very little depth at the back I dug into the depths of my mind and stumbled over Sir Thomas Lipton again. How the hell did they confuse West Auckland up with Arsenal?!

I say Sir Thomas Lipton loosely as I tripped over Herbert Chapman and his WM formation once again. I say again as I used this formation during a successful spell at Torino during FM19 found on this post http://il-cammino-di-torino-season-2023-24-broken-bricks. I then looked at the other key positions in the WM vs what we had in the squad and decided to give it a whirl during the preseason friendlies, conscious that if it failed I would need to cobble together a more common tactic with very few defenders available.

The above image shows the basis for Herbert Chapman’s WM. Below is a the baseline tactic I drew up for trial over the preseason friendlies. The idea behind it is to use as few defenders as possible along with the hypocrisy of being tight at the back yet fluid on the ball. I am keen to see lots of passing as maintaining possession is key. I hope to see patient build up in attacks, with the team looking take opportunities at goal once we have put the opposition in a spin. Note the roles are not yet fully defined as this (like last years version) is still a work in progress.

Thank you for your time. The next episode will cover the preseason friendlies, progress through the general seasons results and give further discussion over the WM tactic we aim to employ. Ciao for now!