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

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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!

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Coffee drinker, mug hoarder, Italian Football lover, Football shirt collector.

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