Sport

Palermo win Serie A clash with Verona despite problems with coach Davide Ballardini

Palermo have won their key Serie A relegation battle at Verona despite being in disarray with coach Davide Ballardini missing in action.

"Ballardini has not spoken to us, neither before, nor after the game," goalkeeper and captain Stefano Sorrentino told reporters on Sunday in an episode unusual even by the standards of the volatile Sicilian club.

Palermo manager Davide Ballardini.
Palermo manager Davide Ballardini. Photo: Getty Images

"What has happened has been incredible and I've never seen anything like it in my 36 years."

"The team played and won the game on our own, preparing in the best way for a game which was worth six points," he said after a 1-0 victory which took Palermo six points clear of the drop zone.

"I'm the captain of this team," he added.

"Some of the lads could be my sons and I will not allow anyone to doubt the moral integrity and professionalism of this team."

Italian media said Ballardini was involved in a row with Sorrentino on Saturday after trying to drop him and club president Maurizio Zamparini intervened on the goalkeeper's behalf.

It was not clear who actually picked the team on Sunday.

Ballardini was appointed in November after Giuseppe Iachini was fired in a move criticised by some of the players.

Earlier this week, Italian media reported that Zamparini had invited Iachini to return but the coach had turned down the offer.

"It has been a stressful week for Ballardini, who has preferred to take some time out," the club's director of football Manuel Gerolin said.

"It's a moment of reflection for him. There has been some great tension and it was important to get a result."

Iachini had been in charge for two years, making him the longest-serving coach since Zamparini took over at the club in 2002.

Zamparini has overseen 29 coaching changes in his 13 years at the helm.

Reuters