Napoli defeated Torino 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday evening but the Partenopei won more comfortably than what the scoreline suggests and they are currently enjoying a revival in form under new coach Gennaro Gattuso.
The 42-year-old replaced Carlo Ancelotti, his former coach at AC Milan, on the Ciucciarelli bench in December 2019 and he has already achieved more victories in a short space of time than what his mentor did in the first half of the 2019/20 campaign.
Despite relying on goals from defenders Kostas Manolas and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, the win takes Napoli to sixth in the Serie A table with 39 points after 26 matches played and it puts them in a position to salvage some European football for 2020/21.
Meanwhile, the defeat plunges Torino into a deeper on-field crisis, who have not earned a league victory since January 12, when they won 1-0 against Bologna.
Apprentice Outshines Master
Although he began his stint with a 2-1 defeat to Parma in Serie A, Gattuso has managed to earn nine victories in 15 competitive matches on the Napoli bench.
Ancelotti won just eight times in 21 competitive fixtures, which included a run of seven Italian league games without victory, before Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis relieved the 60-year-old of his duties.
The Ciucciarelli were as low as 11th in the Serie A table in January but they are now in contention for a Europa League place after winning five of their last six Serie A games.
Things are also looking optimistic for Gattuso outside of the league as Napoli are still in with a chance of eliminating Spanish giants Barcelona from the Champions League and they hold a 1-0 aggregate lead against Inter in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.
Napoli Discover Other Avenues to Goal
Throughout the 2010s, Napoli were known for their prolific attacking tridents; Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani, and Ezequiel Lavezzi were scoring goals for fun under Coach Walter Mazzarri while Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, and Lorenzo Insigne were a lethal trio under Maurizio Sarri.
In Serie A alone, nobody has hit doubles figures yet, with Arkadiusz Milik just on nine goals for the Partenopei so far this season while Mertens and Insigne have six and five goals respectively.
Against Torino, the Ciuciarelli forwards turned providers, with Insigne assisting for Manolas and Mertens providing the pass for Di Lorenzo to score.
This match might be an anomaly in that regard but on the basis of this performance, Gattuso can count on goals from elsewhere and if he forwards are not scoring, at least they are still making a positive contribution on the pitch.
A Longo Way to Go
Torino have now suffered six consecutive defeats in Serie A, equalling their record from the 1999/2000 season when they were relegated and the 2006/07 campaign.
Caretaker coach Moreno Longo also made history, having lost his first three league games in charge of the Granata. Lido Vieri achieved the same feat in 1995/96 when he replaced Franco Scoglio, also losing to Napoli in his third match, and the club were eventually relegated to Serie B.
Torino are equal 14th with Udinese in the Serie A table on 27 points and they are five points clear from safety but they need star striker Andrea Belotti to overcome his goalscoring drought, which is currently at seven games. In December 2017, he had gone eight games without scoring.