Napoli are in crisis. It would be unfair not to call it that. From the ritiro that never happened and Carlo Ancelotti denying calling for it to Eljif Elmas taking part in a Press conference despite the club’s impositions, it gives the impression of a toxic atmosphere. There are breakage points everywhere.
Even the fans called for the heads of Lorenzo Insigne and Aurelio De Laurentiis after the ritiro incident. The ultras are never too far from making their opinions be heard and it shows that they have lost hope. They don’t expect much from a bunch of players who aren’t really trying too hard. It is a combination of self-imposed disasters. Even though Ancelotti is the last one to be blamed, he is not blameless either.
Carletto has been playing a 4-4-2 formation constantly, leaving the side very light in the heart of the park. No other Serie A team have gone with just two central midfielders, not even the lesser outfits. The Partenopei’s opponents have always had an extra man in midfield, leaving them short of numbers in that area.
Napoli have had the second-highest amount of average possession per game (56.5 percent). They’ve had the second-highest number of shots per game (19.3) and the second-highest passing accuracy (86.5). Despite that, they find themselves at seventh in the League, seven points behind Cagliari, in a real upturn of the pre-season Serie A predictions.
But the fact that they have let in nine goals on the counterattack says so much. If they had a ball-winning midfielder in that area, things could have been different. Allan’s injury hasn’t helped and that has forced creative players Fabian Ruiz and Piotr Zielinski to fill the void.
Ancelotti has been known to constantly change formations between games. The frequent change to 4-3-3 with the left winger coming inside has become common since last season. The changes to three at the back can catch opposition off-guard, as happened against Liverpool. But it doesn’t always help the players, who have been given no specific task. It becomes muddled and confusing for them, leading to a lack of goals and lack of organisation.
Having said that, the players aren’t helping themselves. Even though ritiro is a method from days gone by, they’ve let themselves down in the eyes of the fans and the coach. While Ancelotti has been vocal in his support for them, they haven’t repaid his trust.
They are highly-paid professionals who don’t like to be treated like school children. But their actions haven’t gone down well with the fans, who expect much better from the heroes they look up to, in particular Insigne and Allan who have been at the club long enough but led the boycott from the front.
It is no surprise that fans have been wanting them out. In fact, it is no surprise they’ve been wanting De Laurentiis out too. The infamous ‘celebrity’ of Naples has showed no hesitation in making the problems public knowledge. It is almost like a movie that he is meant to produce. It is his club in name, but he isn’t doing much to preserve or protect the players. He’s entitled to act the way he chooses, but regular comments about the obvious faults of the players are pitting the fans against the stars even more.
One can’t blame him for being ‘old-fashioned’ for organising the training retreat. It is a way of resolving the issues that exist at the club. Through that, the players get to know where the problems lie and where they have been going wrong. Once that happened, it was alright just to criticise them once or twice. It was fine to call the players out and talk about docking wages. But going on and on about it has made the atmosphere more strenuous.
In between all that, it is the coach’s credibility that goes. No matter how hard Don Carlo tries, he is the one held responsible when the players don’t have their hearts in what they are doing. Considering that the club spent €128m in the summer, the side should be doing better. Being seventh isn’t good enough. A time will come, or it already has, when the coach will have to bear the brunt, even though it isn’t directly his fault.
This blame for this state of affairs lies all around the club. The differences between all parties and their approaches have made it an untenable situation. The club has become its own enemy. And it can’t escape from itself.