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The Topsy-Turvy Times At Parma Has Been Replaced By An Air Of Calm

Sunday 29th September 2013
The demise of a once successful football club is a sad fact of the game these days, but perhaps the worst thing is how common it is.Money is everything in football, so much so that many people are saying that the beautiful game has sold its soul. What is could happen, is that those who have the cash will get so far ahead of the rest that playing football may even be rendered pointless.

Of course not...

But as PSG, Monaco, Barcelona and Real Madrid each spend in excess of £50million on one player, a European "Super League" seems to look ever more as the next logical step for the richest sport in the world.

If you ask fans to describe major football club collapses in recent years, you'll probably hear the likes of Leeds United or, in a Serie A enthusiast's case, Napoli or Fiorentina in response.

All good answers, as all fell from grace dramatically. However, despite losing players such as Maradona, Batistuta and Nuno Gomes, and finding themselves in Serie C and declared bankrupt since the turn of the century, both Fiorentina and Napoli have recovered spectacularly to once again challenge at the top of Serie A. Though the former were sentenced to liquidation in 2002, and had to start again, from scratch.

Sometimes people forget how far both clubs have had to come in such a short time.

Just like people forget Parma's troubles in recent times, too. With one of Italy's, and indeed Europe's best teams at one point in the 1990's, the club now find themselves as a relegation battling side these day, having flirted with Serie B for a stint in 2008/09. Parma endured a torrid time in 2004 when, like Fiorentina, they were reformed. However, this was their second rebirth, having suffered the same fate in 1968.

Putting all into perspective, Parma's current situation isn't all that bad. However, you could in a way compare the to the American economy in the 1920's and 30's. As I mentioned before, Parma's team during the 1990's was exceptional, and included some of Serie A's greatest players in recent times.

With the likes of Lillian Thuram, Gianluigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo and Fabio Cannavaro under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti, Parma managed to finish second in Serie A in 1997. A year later as Ancelotti was replaced by Alberto Malesani, Parma won a cup double, ironically beating Fiorentina over two legs to lift the Coppa Italia and beating Marseille in Moscow to lift the UEFA Cup.

To carry on the American economy metaphor, Parma were "booming" as success culminated in a victory over Milan in the Italian Super Cup in 1999.

However, like many clubs these days, Parma were a victim of their own success. In 2000, Crespo was sold to Lazio for a world record fee of £36m, only for that record to be broken a year later when Juventus sold Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid for £48million. A domino effect followed as Juve paid a combined £45million for Buffon and Thuram later that year, while Fabio Cannavaro also joined Inter a year later.

Malesani left and Parma finished outside the top six for the first time since 1990. Soon after, they went bust.

Other players like Brazilian striker Adriano, co-owned by Inter, and Japan midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata were moved on before the meltdown.

An awful 2004-05 campaign summed up Parma's issues, and the end of that season saw new star man, young striker Alberto Gilardino, sold to Milan after scoring over 20 goals that season. Years later saw Parma relegated, and upon their return they have settled in mid table in Italy's top division.

Currently 13th with five points in the early part of this season, Parma as a club have settled down. With a mixture of youth and experience in their side, they are going about their business nicely. Walter Gargano is on loan from Napoli, while Joel Obi and Jonathan Biabany have arrived from Inter, albeit in different capacities.

Things are unlikely to get as good as they did in the late 90's, though under former Italy boss Roberto Donadoni it's finally calm at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
Harry De Cosemo
19 years old, Newcastle season ticket holder. European football enthusiast and aspiring football writer. Currently doing a Journalism degree at Teesside University. You can follow me on Twitter: @harrydecosemo

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