MUNOZ DEFENDS MISFIRING PALERMO

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MARTIN PALERMO has failed to set La Liga on fire since his move from Argentina, a fact that has forced Villarreal boss Victor Munoz to defend his star striker.

Palermo moved in a shock £12 million deal to a club that was not even seen in the top six teams of Spain but had 'plenty of potential'.

However, with his side currently eighth in the league and challenging for a Uefa Cup spot, it seems the local media are not impressed with Palermo's haul of three goals so far.

Villarreal boss Munoz has leapt to the defence of the striker and pleaded for more time to adjust to the Spanish league.

Munoz said: "I am very happy with Martin.  I believe that he is doing very well and that he must not lose faith in his own ability.

"It is clear that he has not scored the goals that everyone was expecting, but in football everything takes time.

"It is impossible to come into a new team and hope that everything falls into place over night. First, you have to adapt, to get to know your team-mates and let them get to know you.

"That is beginning to happen now with Martin. He and the team are still adapting to each other, so I am convinced that things will improve for him because he is such a great striker.

"He is doing very well in training and showing a desire to prove himself when he plays in the team."

During last Saturday's 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid, Palermo was involved in an angry tete a tete with team-mate Jorge Lopez.

This prompted Munoz to say: "I do not understand the people who are surprised that these things happen.

"That is what happens in football and it is sometimes good when this happens. It shows that the player is motivated or that he is upset that things are not as they should be, then there is a will to win.

"These kind of criticisms always happen when a team has a bad spell and people begin to look for someone to blame. When the results improve these opinions will change."