Thursday December 7 2017
Napoli too shallow to succeed

Maurizio Sarri’s football depends on consistency, writes Jack Stevens, and that cost him the Champions League, but could it damage Scudetto prospects too?

As rumours circulated that Pep Guardiola texted Maurizio Sarri proclaiming that Manchester City would “do their best” to secure a win against Shakhtar Donetsk, you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone who would have predicted the eventual outcome on bettinglounge. A simple three points for City and a routine dispatching of Feyenoord by Napoli would have seen the darlings of football hipster culture waltz through to the last 16, just as the script set out.

Fast forward to Monday and Napoli are the glaring omission from the Champions League draw. A difficult balancing act has seen Sarri’s loyalties divided, and a catalogue of errors eventually led to the worst possible scenario for Napoli.

Their targeting of a first Scudetto since 1990 has understandably seen them prioritise domestic matters, and given Napoli’s chances of succeeding compared to the European crown, it is hard to argue against this logic. However, having improved their depth over the summer with the likes of Mario Rui and Adam Ounas arriving to give them impressive rotational options, blame seemingly lies elsewhere.

A growing feeling, emphasised after Napoli’s defeat against Juventus, is that their style may well be intrinsically self-defeating. Winning the undying admiration of the football world is one thing, but winning titles is something else, and as of now Sarri has delivered nothing.

Sarri’s style is undeniably magnificent, but by nature it is one which demands continuity and consistency. This in turn breeds a culture of minimal rotation, as in order for Sarri to sustain Napoli’s efficiency, the inclusion of Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens is necessary. By arguably working Napoli’s golden three to the bone, Napoli’s domestic and European conquests lie embroiled in a lingering fear of burnout at the worst possible time.

Insigne’s injury, occurring after he had staggeringly started all of Napoli’s last 60 competitive matches, indicates this aversion to comprehensive rotation, and it is perfectly viable to suggest this has negatively impacted their European commitments.

Not so much indignity rather than unwanted distraction, the Europa League for Napoli is nothing less than a potentially catastrophic pothole in their road to the Scudetto. Napoli’s double defeat against Manchester City was dignified, but no points are awarded for style. Managing a solitary point against Manchester City is a feat in itself, but compound such failings with just six points taken from their meetings with Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk make this a mess of Napoli’s making. Napoli have grossly misjudged and fumbled the Champions League, and by denying it the respect it deserves, they are now paying the price.

Effort must be made not to discredit Shakhtar Donetsk, who under the Zorro-masked Paulo Fonseca have masterminded an exceptional progression alongside Manchester City. However, Napoli’s undeniably superiority at a squad level to Shakhtar Donetsk is patently evident, and Sarri must shoulder the blame for their fixture mismanagement.

Napoli must now plan ahead, and continue to focus solely on their title challenge. With Inter announcing themselves as viable contenders along with the Old Lady, the Partenopei have their work cut out should they lift the trophy they desire more than any other.

While Napoli will pay the price for their Champions League failings with a stint in a competition they deem irrelevant, Inter and Juventus face a much more desirable fixture list. Sarri must learn from his mistakes, and should Napoli fail to win the Scudetto, adopting a policy of unwavering single-mindedness and disregard for anything other than Serie A is a huge gamble to take.

Have your say...
Enough is enough, Sarri must go, he is so stupid, the most fundamentalist coach I have ever seen, so predictable, that anyone can defend against him, and beat him, he believes so stupidly in his rubbish system that simply does not work, and he just continues stubbornly in the same vain, how stupid can you get? It has became agonizing to watch Napoli, I give up for health reasons, no good for my nerves...
on the 10th December, 2017 at 7:38pm
And I gotta say that the writing of the (idiotic) code down, after you write your comment (with explanation to 'check if we're humans") IS THE STUPIDEST THING ever cone, who ever thought about it! I don't remember any other website (in the last 10 years at least) who'd done something as stupid s that! The explanation makes ABSOLUTELY NO POINTS! YOU SHOULD QUIT RIGHT AWAY & I'm sure I;m not da only one feeling this way! There zillion other ways to delete unwanted comments
on the 10th December, 2017 at 12:43am
We we were ALL saying (& it was clear) that Napoli will sacrifice UCL for the Scudetto, and we all take it for granted, not realizing what will it mean 4 da cluib 0 both financially (around 40-50mil), as well as for theor nreputation. Onl=y a month ago everyone was praising Sarri's style, and now when we saw at the face of the realism of falling off CL into EL, everyone's throwing stones at the man! But it had 2 b don,m with this squad! So, don't forget that in May when he lift the Scudetto!
on the 10th December, 2017 at 12:36am
You don't say those rules are your self-proclaimed rules in which you self-implemented as a general rule here now..
on the 8th December, 2017 at 6:30pm
I don't think being courageous or not has got anything to do with being sane to hurl insults on a stranger, it would be inappropriate. Maybe you will do that when you have enough courage but certainly not me. No matter how much courage I have, I'll never do that to a person I've never seen before as I do have my morality.

And I didn't know there is this FI's forum rules. I must had broken a plenty that my message still gets approved huh?
on the 8th December, 2017 at 6:26pm
Sure, but their mentality will greatly deteriorate in Inter's camp. I don't want to see the team going drought for some 15 over years only to win something again through a fabricated court order.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 4:31pm
As opposed to calling victors+champions cowards. Yes, such strong words that I doubt you have the courage to utter in front of any stranger, let alone payed professionals. For someone who expects a reasonable response, you never showed anything close to reasonable in all your comments.

That's why I think you should be on ArsenalFanTV. Unhinged and unbounded by FI's forum rules, I know your rambling will make for priceless football banter. Have a good life, fam.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 4:04pm
@ mnm are you stupid or something? Whats this about sending players to psg to run more like matuidi. What nonsense !!! Anyway matuidi is an individual with a certain skill set. Each player has different characteristics and plays a certain role. Why send the players all the way to psg when they could send all their players to inter so everyone can train and gain the fitness levels of javier zanetti lolol.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 1:47pm
It's not new that you do not give any reasonable response to any topic so I think I'll just pass you.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 1:05pm
"Can Napoli be beaten with a different style of football? Yes, a plenty.
Can Juve play a different style of football with an over 200m worth of attacking line-up? Yes, a plenty."

Can there be any more meaningless string of words? Yes, a plenty.

I don't know why anyone bothers to give you attention other than point and laugh. I suggest you go on ArsenalFanTV.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 10:58am
I think that Napoli r focusing on the Scudetto this season. They aren't usually that poor in Europe n they still impressed n were unlucky to not get at least a point against City. I just worry if they can actually make that step up n if Sarri can possibly improve them anymore when they they don't seem to have much investment or many young players coming through. Not to mention all the revenue lost cause they don't own their own stadium. Still. Beautiful to watch n a credit to Italian football!
on the 8th December, 2017 at 6:58am
What you're saying would of been more credible had Juve shown more vigour against Olympiacos. Juve just not playing effectively, making too many mistakes which led to wasting meaningless energy. Fitness is really the last of our concern.

Btw, I knew it was BS when I first read that Juve camp provides the toughest training. Matuidi is the most athletic player I've seen on this team and he came from PSG. Maybe we should send our players to PSG for a month training.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 5:10am
Can Napoli be beaten with a different style of football? Yes, a plenty.
Can Juve play a different style of football with an over 200m worth of attacking line-up? Yes, a plenty.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 4:59am
Napoli to collapse in the next round of the Europa League (on purpose ??), then look for the collapse in Serie A. When you have an unstable idiot as an owner, who no doubt won't buy any players in January, Sarri's magic can only take them so far. Third place to Napoli come May

@mnm points are awarded for wins, not style.....FORZA JUVE !!!!!
on the 8th December, 2017 at 2:34am
@mnm Yes it was atrocious to watch but we understood the context of that game. CL matters more than ever and Serie A is a marathon to us rather than sprint. We know when to pull back and when to up the ante. Problem this season beyond injuries is Allegri egotistically sticking with his 'mad ideas'. Before you know it Dybala would be DM and Mandzukic a left back. And hopefully he will start trusting our new signings more.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 12:31am
@ Beppe Rossi ; you implement Sarri's rotation policy with this Juve squad and the players will tell him where to ask sarri for a midfielder he will ask for Valdifiori and Allegri will ask for Pjanic, sarri will ask for Rui and Allegri will ask for A. see where i am going with this ? sarri is a provincial coach at best he's not even an athlete !
on the 7th December, 2017 at 10:53pm
You implement Sarri's style with this current Juve squad, and they would be blasting every team they face.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 9:21pm
Napoli is simply a provincial club that has done far better than expectations the past few years. Once the usual Italian powers get back to where they belong, Napoli will also go back to where it belongs: Upper midtable.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 8:42pm
Yet Juve were being cowards against this overrated team and played the most horrendous anticipated game of all time.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 7:45pm
Zielinski, Diawara, Ounas, Rog, Giaccherini, Rui, and Maksimovic, in theory, add nice depth to Napoli's starting Xl. Sarri, for all his genius, hasn't utilized it correctly.
Napoli should be able to rotate against the bottom half Serie A teams and still win, but Sarri hasn't been.

Napoli need to invest in their youth, the squad lacks a core of Italians/Neapolitans. A club like Napoli can't compete by playing the transfer market, they don't have the resources.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 6:24pm
Sarri's style is not self-defeating. In fact, it has raised the levels of each of these Napoli players. This same Napoli squad with Benitez on the bench wouldn't even make top 4 in Serie A this season.
Napoli didn't deserve to go through, they played poorly in the UCL. Everyone knew Napoli had a lack of depth but key injuries have seen it become a problem already in the first half of the season.
I love Sarri's Napoli but if they wish to win titles the club must be run in a competitive way.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 6:16pm
People can be all too easily seduced by pretty football these days. I'm surprised that Napoli's good run didn't end a long time ago. Beneath the attractive veneer there have been many issues: no rotation & barely giving squad players any minutes, so they come in cold when they are needed; no plan b; very predictable; very wasteful; terrible at attacking corners; terrible at defending crosses; crack when it really matters...... The Italian version of Arsenal, but without the £15 fish & chips.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 5:37pm
Disappointing Napoli. Sarri just couldn't learn that squad depth and fatigue management are almost as important as tactic, especially with high pressing style + fluid passing that Napoli use. Ghoulam & Insigne finally down, Hamsik seems burnout, Mertens starts to look exhausted, Who's next? and we're not even halfway yet in the league.

ADL should share the blame, No investment, No backup wingers, fullbacks, GK & CF.

Well good for inter then, we might get 2nd, or even 1st with luck & no injury.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 5:32pm
Overrated. Plain and simple. Serie A has made average teams look great. Who in there right mind acrually believed Napoli could do what juve have failed to do for so many years.
Serie A is dead, with the National team out there is no where to hide anymore time for reform so the great teams field real italian talent and not just buy from eastern Europe,africa or south america.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 4:30pm
And Napolis's corners ?
And Koulibali never being able to deliver a fast long pass to the far right right?
And Mr Hysaj's inability to pass in the attack?
And old Maggio, creating a worse problem as soon as he has solved one ?
And Mr Reina, why can he not just pick up the ball and relax a bit? And his inability to stability when corners are played?
on the 7th December, 2017 at 3:07pm
well not all hope is lost yet but napoli has a tendency of losing it out in middle season due to fatigue and burnout....Lets see what happen this season with roma, inter and juve all raking up points; looking for exciting season finale....Still i guess juve are way up above the rest of the pack may be its their habit of squeezing points even when they are not playing at their best....exciting season it is
on the 7th December, 2017 at 1:35pm
Juve will fight tooth and nail to claim 1st spot on Saturday. Inter are doing great but Juve have the experience and mental strength for games like this. Even though not quiet there yet, they are starting to play better as a team(specially defensively). Benatia has put in some great performances lately. Love to see Pjaca back in the team again. Have not seen enough of this man yet. I guess he will get a coppa game soon.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 1:25pm
Maldini's Heir won't agree this. LOLOLOLOLOL

He believes ROTATION POLICY is a myth and footballers are ROBOTS that can play high speed tempo up to 60 games in a season.

I believe AC Milan's poor situation has damaged his brain.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 1:14pm
Juve will beat Inter.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 12:19pm
Sarri's Napoli is weak to pressure. More than anything else, this fact has been apparent throughout his tenure. Inter are more of a threat now that they have a competent coach and no European obligations. Roma could become a wild card if they handle a rough patch well.

Napoli though, for the 3rd year running, get crushed by the weight of expectations. Even with the Higuain money, they play like a low budget club.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 11:22am

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