Napoli Club Focus: Stick or twist…?
The 2-0 defeat against Chievo and Juventus’ injury time winner at home to Catania leaves them trailing by an insurmountable nine points and even puts at risk their current position as runners up.
So, in light of the latest developments, the club has some very critical decisions to make come the summer, decisions that need huge consideration now so that the club is not left trying to make up for lost time when the new season approaches. Does the club maintain what it has or do they take on a whole new strategy?
Firstly, should Walter Mazzarri stay or should he go? Strong rumours suggest that he will be sacrificed and that already an agreement is in place for him to take over at Inter. We underline that these are only rumours, but it does not take a genius to work out that the Coach has probably taken the club as far as his tactics will allow him to. Many will argue that he has a squad that should rival the Bianconeri and that his side should be much closer than the current gap suggests and that for these reasons his time at the club must now be at an end.
There appears to be little support for rewarding Mazzarri with a new contract. Most observers will agree that a change of direction is necessary if the Partenopei can truly be considered as title contenders and join the elite group that is Juventus, AC Milan and Inter.
Here at Club Focus we are torn between the necessity to ‘freshen things up’ and the importance of continuity. If he does go, what major contenders are available to take over at the San Paolo? Does the club aim to tempt a big name to Naples, for example Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Mancini or Jose Mourinho? Even if it did, do we really feel this calibre of tactician would want to join Napoli? It does appear that if Aurelio De Laurentiis is keen to change the man at the top, it will not be for one of Europe’s finest.
Secondly, is it time for the team to be broken up and the money to be spent on rebuilding a squad with a quality that can challenge for the scudetto? Surely the funds generated by a potential sale of Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani would be enough to clear the debt of many small countries, more than would be necessary to start off a process of rejuvenation.
Or, should the club keep its crown jewels and attempt to improve in just a few key areas? A younger and more able goal keeper would be one position that must be looked at in the summer, as well as a decision on the defence. Hugo Campagnaro seems Inter bound next season and the remaining centre backs have probably already circumvented the peak of their abilities.
More importantly, would a new coach remain faithful to a back three? Would the club now need to look for dedicated full backs if a flat back four was part of a new look Napoli? Christian Maggio has never excelled as a right back and Juan Zuniga may also feel stifled if he is to consider defensive duties throughout the 90 minutes.
Questions like these will no doubt fill the air in Neapolitan bars from now till the end of the season. However, the club still has a Championship to fight for, even if it is for honour rather than success. This weekend sees a resurgent Atalanta visit the San Paolo and Mazzarri must ensure that his side is psychologically prepared to face Stefano Colantuono’s men.
As usual, there are very few injury issues – only Miguel Britos is a doubt as he continues his recovery from a knock. However, Napoli do have eight players who are a booking away from a suspension which could have an impact on the impending games ahead. The players will need to temper their aggression.
It is a shame that we are now writing articles considering the end of the Walter Mazzarri era. The Coach’s time in Naples must surely be considered a success, regardless of how the season ends. However, whether his time is deemed as a stepping stone to further glories or the end of period that has long since gone stale and needs to be rebuilt from top to bottom will only become clear come next season.
Sempre forza Napoli!