Maurizio Sarri was always confident Napoli and Marek Hamsik would repay him for his patience after surpassing Inter for the top spot.
“In physical terms, we had the best stats of the season by far. The numbers don’t lie,” the Coach told Mediaset Premium following a 3-1 victory away to Torino.
“It’s difficult to talk about physical tiredness, but a little mental fatigue can happen over the course of a campaign. The season is long and with a game every three days, it’ll happen sooner or later to everyone.
“I watched the game with Fiorentina back and our second half was of a very high level. Today we scored at the first chance and that made everything seem easier.”
Inter lost 3-1 to Udinese today, ending their unbeaten Serie A record, so Napoli knew a victory would put them top of the table.
“It’s impossible to hide other results from your team, as we learned to our cost in Rotterdam (when losing to Feyenoord as Manchester City fell at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, ndr).
“My players knew what Inter had done and these are situations that can either help or hinder. They can give you the hunger to recapture the leadership, but can also pile extra pressure on. Today the lads did well to take the positive aspects from San Siro’s result.”
Hamsik finally got his 115th goal in a Napoli jersey, matching Diego Armando Maradona’s all-time club record.
“We are talking about a player of an extraordinary level. If someone like him plays 45 games of an inferior level, you just have to accept it and stick by him with the certainty he’ll pay you back eventually. He’d been improving for the past few matches.”
Sarri was also asked about this week’s Christmas dinner, which saw President Aurelio De Laurentiis and club staff stunned at their Coach wearing a suit and tie.
“It was more of a joke for the President than anything else! I tied it myself. I did it for years, as although I might seem like a slob now, I was pretty good with tie knots.”