Friday November 22 2019
Napoli their own worst enemy

Napoli have gone from Scudetto challengers to Serie A’s crisis club. Kaustubh Pandey looks at how they got to this point, and where they go next.

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.

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Have your say...
Only problem with napoli is Carlo what a waste of space
has'nt got a clue.
on the 24th November, 2019 at 5:19pm
ADL is the meanest chairman and the root cause of the riot.
If Napoli lost the CL spot, it would be devastating to the club. Koulibaly”s form is terrible and will be sold at a lower price, no more than 80m. So is Allan.
on the 24th November, 2019 at 8:37am
How is it not Ancelotti’s fault? HE is a horrible out dated coach.
on the 23rd November, 2019 at 6:51pm
Napoli's problem is Insigne, Mertens, Callejon and Ancelotti. They are good players but they are not killers and the coach has experience but he really doesn't care anymore. They don't have enough attitude. They play good football but that's about it. Do they have enough hunger, desire and anger to push for something more? I don't see it. Can a coach like Carlo build then into a fighting machine? No, when I look at Carlo's face, I fall asleep.
on the 23rd November, 2019 at 5:07am
Being fan of both clubs I hope Milan wins at home this half of the season then Napoli wins at home in Spring 2020, which brings three points each side rather than one point for a draw.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 7:09pm
& it's MARVELOUS when AGAINST ALL ODDS "skinny" Atalanta takes "chubby" Milan's place in CL!
I love when they complain.
Can't wait for Ata-Milan game!!!

I am only sorry Serie A got 3 CL places as Inter wouldn't see CL for another couple of years!
Allowing Roma & Napoli to "build some musle" & even the playing field.

First year "piggys" got to CL (STEALING LAZIO'S PLACE!!!) they took Nainggolan.
This year almost Dzeko, Flo.

If Milan would be in CL, Manolas & Pellegrini would now be in Milano..
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 6:29pm
To clarify...

Because I've been "starving" I can now appreciate "food" when it's given.
(AKA Ref giving Roma 50-50% choice against Bologna, Genoa...)

There's HIERARCHY in Serie A.
Juve on top.
Then Milan, Inter.

Then it shifts depending on who's "filler" as the rest fights for "crumbs".
Napoli, Roma have risen a lot.
Lazio, Fiorentina, Atalanta are following.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 6:14pm
The truth is poor summer Transfer planning. If you want to employ a 4-4-2 formation then depth at Midfield is obvious. Yet we signed a winger in Lozano and a striker in Llorente. And we held our chips for Icardi. Napoli should have gone aggressively for a solid CDM and an attacking midfielder(s) like a James Rodriguez type. This would have add further depth and allowed Allan and Ruiz to rotate and Elmas to grow. Mertens and Callejon should have been sold in the summer along with Hysaj.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 6:04pm
Their fans don't see it, because they have been "born" into that privilege, with a "golden spoon in their mouths".
They don't know what's it like to "be hungry".

I know.
I've been a Roma fan since 2002 and I've been "starving" for a long time (watching northerns steal our players & tell me to chill with ref's decisions)

But slowly we "ate"
...And we "gained weight".
I'm not "starving" anymore, as Milan is caught.

But I'm still "hungry" & Inter is not that far.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 5:56pm
Refs are...
"affraid" is not the right word
...neither is "have respect"...

But 50-50%, even 60-40% choice will ALWAYS go Juve/Inter way.

Same happens with Barca-Valencia, France-Slovenia.
It's just how it is.

91st minute...
There's CONTACT with Ronaldo's leg.
He falls.
Game continues, 96th minute...
Cuadrado makes CONTACT with Genoa player's face.
Player falls.

That happened a month ago :)

Making a mistake against Juve is not as making one against Genoa!
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 5:28pm

I've already told you my view.
I don't think northern trio cheats...

They simply have:
More fans (look at how many comments Milan blogs get here... And Milan isn't even in form!)
More investments (Ronaldo, Lukaku)
More sponsor deals
More biased media (Tuttosport)

In other words, MORE MONEY.

And money rules the world.

They "provide more jobs".
Serie A/ UEFA/ MEDIA... Don't want weak Juve/Milan. Or Atal/Samp in CL.

Where THE MONEY is.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 4:44pm
Problem with Napoli is ADL. He rarely spends any money on the transfer market and when the issue of stadion comes up he just blames the city - why not start your own stadion project? If you really are a top side then you can afford it. If not, deal with it or sell the club.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 3:42pm
very well said 'united states of totti'!
Napoli's downfall has MAINLY been the corrupt referees controlled by FIAT/Agnelli group. Ok they are not playing exciting football but they have a stronger team compared to last year and doing great in europe.
For the passed 8 years Napoli has been a thorn for the northern clubs like Juve/Milan/Inter and being the only southern club the corrupt refs have cost them at least 9 points - just like the dodgy decisions in the Atalanta game.
Corrupt league!
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 3:12pm
4-3-3 mostly worked for Napoli, and I have no idea why Ancelotti spends so much time trying other formations. If I were a player, I think I'd find the constant changes to be an unnecessary challenge.

As for the players, it's apparent that since Pepe Reina left, the team has no "elder statesman" or leader in the locker room. The players' behavior has been disappointing, especially considering their multi-million euro salaries.

And ADL is becoming the Al Davis of Serie A. That's bad news.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 2:49pm
Napoli is a wonderful team,
But you're all adding to their downfall, especially the media.
Why can't you leave them alone?

You can lose motivation when EVERYTHING is against you (luck, refs, media...).
Gain a different kind of motivation that is rotten & destructive, fuelled by anger.
You start to argue amongst & become paranoid.

It's a mental issue of southern teams, teams that haven't won much.
Subconsciously you start to doubt yourself:
"Maybe I'm not that good after all?" & start to falter
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 11:29am

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