Parma’s 2-0 loss to Inter yesterday not only confirmed Inter as Serie A champions again, but saw the home team relegated from Serie A for the first time in their history.
Parma were always seen as a small, provincial team in Italy, having never been in Italy’s top flight until 1990, but grew in stature and support in the mid 1990’s. Backed by the financial might of the food group Parmalat they not only survived their earlier seasons in Serie A but much to everyones surprise became a real force in Italian football. They have produced a lot of young players in their youth set up, including Italian keeper Buffon and future Italian star Guiessepe Rossi, now at Villareal. Their past players during this period alos included the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Veron, Mutu, Adriano, Gilhardino, Zola and Crespo to name a few. Parma won 2 UEFA cups, in 1995 and 1999 as well as finishing as Serie A runners up in this high period for Parma.
With the collapse of Parmalat the football club began to struggle, and last season it took loan signing Rossi, on loan from Manchester United at the time, to rescue Parma from relegation. This season they fell short and were relegated after the final game of the season.
Parma should look to Fiorentina for inspiration and not dwell on their fall for too long. Fiorentina were relegated a few seasons back and came back reinvented and have had great success since then, having pipped AC Milan to the last Champions League place for next season, just 2 seasons after returning to Serie A.
If Parma are to make an immediate return to the top flight much will depend on how many of their best players they will be able to keep for their Serie B journey. Luca Cigarini and Danielle Dessena are two young Italian midfielders who are thought to have promising futures ahead of them, and have been linked with a host of top teams, most notably Inter. The Parma board will have to convince the two young stars that guaranteed first team football will always be better then sitting on the bench at bigger teams. Loyalty will hopefully speak louder than money. Budan, Gassbaroni and Luccarelli will also hopefully stay on and ensure that Parma return after one season, and then build from there.
While this is a sad time for Parma the writing had been on the wall for a while, ever since the Parmalat scandal rocked the club, but hopefully plans will be but into place to ensure that they are back at the top end of Serie A in the not to distant future.