Cosmi: I was told to drop Miccoli

ROME - Sacked Palermo coach Serse Cosmi says he was told to drop top striker Fabrizio Miccoli by the club president in the latest wacky episode at the Serie A club.

Featuring a "real diamond", a slighted captain, an "old doctor", an outspoken president, two jilted coaches, three shock results and an unlikely reunion, the last two months at the Sicilian club have been straight out of a soap opera.

Cosmi, who was dismissed within hours of Palermo's 4-0 defeat at island rivals Catania on Sunday, said captain Miccoli had asked to be left out of the team after hearing that president Maurizio Zamparini preferred Javier Pastore.

"At 10 o'clock on Sunday morning, president Zamparini asked me what the team was. I told him Pastore was out and Miccoli in. He went into a rage and we had a huge argument," Cosmi told the Gazzetta dello Sport website on Thursday.

"Then just before the game, Miccoli came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, 'coach, look after yourself. Leave me out - I know everything'."

But instead of playing Pastore, who he describes as a "real diamond", Cosmi picked Uruguayan Abel Hernandez as the forward, saying the Argentine was weary after being away with the national team.

Cosmi, whose one-month tenure had brought victory against leaders AC Milan but three defeats, became Zamparini's 18th victim in his nine years as Palermo owner.

Then in a surprising twist, Delio Rossi - casualty No.17 who the colourful president roared had "ruined my Palermo" after a record 7-0 home defeat to Udinese in February - was persuaded to return to the dugout.

"I knew he would be mad at me," said Zamparini, who calls Rossi the "old doctor".

"But I phoned and told him I had made a mistake and that he was the one who could get the team to play as they had done in the first half of the season. Cosmi didn't know the team, he was confused and the players didn't accept him."

Last term Rossi led Palermo to an impressive fifth in Serie A, just missing out on the Champions League qualifiers.

Palermo, who are eighth and meet Milan in the semi-finals of the Italian Cup later this month, host Cesena on Sunday when the president is not expected to give his usual post-match analysis.

"I promised Rossi that I would no longer speak to reporters after matches," Zamparini said.