Sunday November 24 2019
Napoli are a void of inspiration

Napoli and Carlo Ancelotti seem to be completely uninspired, writes Emmet Gates, wasting the quality Milan would love to be able to rely on.

Watching last night’s entertaining but low-quality game between Milan and Napoli, one couldn’t help but notice each side had what the other lacked.

It’s not exactly news to anyone that even casually follows Serie A that Milan and Napoli went into this match under their own personal clouds of self-destruction. Their respective issues are well known and won’t be repeated again here, but what was striking was the difference in effort.

Stefano Pioli has, in his short time on the Milan bench, instilled some sort of desire in the players to improve their shambolic situation. However, it’s clear for all to see that the Rossoneri simply lack quality players in every area of the pitch. With the possible exception of Gigio Donnarumma in goal, Milan do not possess a player that would get into the starting XI of either Juventus or Inter.

Contrast this to Napoli, and it tells a different story. They have quality, bags of it in fact, but last night’s showing made it evident that they simply lack the drive their opponents displayed. Napoli were nothing short of dire: no conviction, little spark, creatively void, completely uninspiring.

So, a year and half into the Carlo Ancelotti project at Napoli, what are the defining characteristics of this side? What stands out as a major improvement that you can point to and say that it was the work of Ancelotti? What, in essence, are Napoli? What have they become?

It’s difficult to decipher what progress Ancelotti has made. Of course, they were never going to hit the aesthetically pleasing peaks of the Maurizio Sarri era (even Sarri himself hasn’t reached the same heights with first Chelsea and so far at Juve), but after 18 months, there should be some sign of evolution, something that points towards this side having Ancelotti’s fingerprints over it.

Ancelotti, arguably for the first time since his Parma days when he was a strict disciple of Arrigo Sacchi, is utilising a flat 4-4-2. But the majority of the players, most of whom are still pining for Sarri’s 4-3-3, don’t seem comfortable with the system, most of all Lorenzo Insigne, who doesn’t play with the same Neapolitan swagger as a left midfielder or as a forward in a front two. He’s looked completely lost during games, the enjoyment of playing for his local club seemingly all but sucked out of him.

The Napoli players have lauded Ancelotti in the past for implementing more of a rotation system than was used under Sarri, with players like Nikola Maksimovic and Sebastiano Luperto getting considerably more playing time, and he has stayed true to that. Yet by the same token, Ancelotti recently stated that Napoli lack consistency. It isn’t exactly rocket science that consistency comes with usually picking the same XI.

It’s been eight years since Napoli have had so few points on the board at this stage of the season, the days of Salvatore Aronica and Paolo Cannavaro in the Walter Mazzarri era. They haven’t won for six games in all competitions, again another record that hasn’t been seen since Mazzarri patrolled the touchline at the San Paolo.

Ancelotti has so far failed to give Napoli a tactical identity, they now score less than under Sarri, but they also concede more, and have no discernible style of play.

This lends itself to the theory that over the last decade Ancelotti has become more of a facilitator of great players, rather than tactically evolving his teams. It’s arguable that he hasn’t done anything exceptional, in a tactical sense, since the early years of his Milan reign, bar several standout games. His stagnation as a coach is doing the players no favours; they’ve gone from being micromanaged to under-coached in the space of two years.

In their current predicament, it’s difficult to see Ancelotti remaining at the club past the end of this season. His lethargy matching that of many of his players, for whom it seems their time at the club has come to an end. A cycle has well and truly ended.

Any hopes of a Scudetto challenge have long since faded. The objective for Ancelotti is to secure a place in the top four, and perhaps go on a decent Champions League run. But what was once seen as a coup in signing the three-time Champions League winning coach hasn’t worked out as everyone thought it would. The euphoria has long since dissipated.

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Have your say...
Napoli DNA is not a winning DNA,its just romantic that goes back to the days of Maradona. Although I love Napoli but lets face it Napoli is a good but not a winning team from a city with so much passion for its Calcio. As for Ancelotti he succeeded with big teams and I cant see him reproducing the greatness he achieved with Milan or even Real Madrid.In addition Napoli need to focus on themselves and stop complaining how northern teams are preferred.
on the 26th November, 2019 at 7:24am
2of2. Not sure Allegri is the answer stylistically, but they could do worse. What about Pochettino?
on the 25th November, 2019 at 10:05pm
ADL becomes more and more a joke. Just like DAM.
on the 25th November, 2019 at 9:54pm
I love Carlo for all the silverware he brought us, but will also say that we missed out on a lot more because of him. The aforementioned CL loss still stings, as well as the 4-0 at Coruna. Then there was the chronic underachievement in the league. How does a squad that went to the CL final 3 times in 5 years (and could have arguably gone the two times in between save for the howler at Coruna in 2004 and a ref error at Barcelona in 2006) only win 1 Serie a title (2003) during that whole era? 1of2
on the 25th November, 2019 at 9:54pm
Emmet, how dare you blaspheme.

Nabboli are the epitome of beautiful Calcio, the pinnacle of finesse, lethal finishing, and style, rolled in one - like multiple layers which combine to make that amazing lasagna of success.. like winning back-to-back trebles, heralding a new era of inspirational football and putting Italy back on the map amongst la crème della crème....

Ooooookay, I have to admit, I was laughing wayyyyyyy too hard to the lines above... basically Nabboleeee dream, everyday...
on the 25th November, 2019 at 7:43am
I saw this movie, back in the day. Ancelotti seems dusty, outdated. He did tried to change his 4-4-2 at Juve, for Zizou, failed though. Actually, there is no void at Napoli - the (dressing) room is filled with Carletto's stubbornness. Ask the Bayern Munich players;) Napoli are a failure, after 19 straight months with Ancelotti, it still feeds from that victory 2-0 against Liverpool in CL, but the rematch is coming in 2 days. After all, Ancelotti was sacked by "his" Parma, you know;)
on the 25th November, 2019 at 7:11am
His appointment was treated as if it was the second coming by some. I expected as much and didn’t get why anyone would get rid of Sarri and get him. His sides choking ain’t news as this was the man in charge where a team leading 3-0 in a major final at half time managed to lose the game to a vastly inferior side on the day. Who does that?
on the 25th November, 2019 at 12:20am
When he came to Juve he was not helped by Del Piero’s injury but his Juve side was absolutely dire. The nadir for me was getting spanked 4-0 by Celta Vigo in uefa cup. The only saving grace was the impeccable form of Zinedine Zidane who under Lippi was brilliant in cl but inconsistent in the league but Carlo brought him to the fore on a more consistent basis. At Real Madrid he was just able to handle the egos so much better than Mourinho and it worked in the cl at least. I never understood why
on the 25th November, 2019 at 12:17am
He had the guts to play Pirlo and Rui Costa together and not just them, Seedorf, Kaka and Sheva in the same team. The second thing I found interesting and agree with is his only real great tenure was at Milan. At Parma he took over a very entertaining side built by Nevio Scala from the teams of Minotti, benarrivo, di chiara and Melli to the one that had Brolin, Crippa, zola and Asprilla turned them to an unwatchable side as Zola went to Chelsea and the team was just functional with no flair.
on the 25th November, 2019 at 12:07am
Another article same story but at least this 1 has a couple of things I found interesting. The part of Ancelotti being an enabler of great players over any tactical nous he may or may not posses, I agree with. I’d always laud him for creating the Pirlo role . He could have easily done what most Italian managers do by stating 2 great players cannot play together, pitting 1 vs the other and then having a no talented work horse play instead. A decision I believe has cost Italy dear in the past
on the 24th November, 2019 at 11:57pm
I don't understand Ancelotti's slavish devotion to the 4-4-2, which simply doesn't work for Napoli's players. There is a saying that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. That seems to be Ancelotti.

Football Italia is reporting that Max Allegri may be in line to replace Ancelotti. For this Napoli fan, the sooner the better. I'd rather Napoli win ugly, as Juve did under Allegri, than not win at all.
on the 24th November, 2019 at 10:27pm

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