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(Reuters) - Palermo sacked coach Gian Piero Gasperini for the second time in a season on Monday as owner Maurizio Zamparini desperately battles to avoid the drop.
A statement said the Serie A club were now mulling who would take over with media reports speculating that Giuseppe Sannino, who managed the side for the first three games of the campaign, was favourite to be re-appointed.
The Sicilians, under the stewardship of Gasperini for only two weeks in his second stint in charge, are second bottom and five points from safety with 10 games left after Sunday's 2-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Siena.
"It would be mad if we managed to stay up at this point," a previously optimistic Zamparini told reporters on Monday.
"We need luck and our players to be men instead of being gutless."
Hundreds of livid Palermo supporters more used to their side fighting for the European places protested outside the stadium after Sunday's loss, pelting objects at the team bus and chanting against the flamboyant and famously volatile Zamparini.
He has fired four coaches this season and reinstated one of them, a common practice in Italy where rules state no manager can boss two Serie A teams in a season.
Coaches also often remain under contract when sacked, meaning they are cheaper to rehire.
Zamparini dispensed with Sannino in September, saying the coach's relationship with the team had deteriorated, and replaced him with former Inter Milan boss Gasperini.
Gasperini was fired after his team lost to Atalanta at the start of February and replaced by Alberto Malesani, who was himself sacked after three games in charge. Zamparini then re-hired Gasperini only to fire him after two matches.
Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Justin Palmer