Wednesday December 11 2019
Ancelotti too nice for Napoli

Maybe Carlo Ancelotti was always too nice to make his mark at Napoli, as Susy Campanale feels his style of ‘soft power’ no longer works.

Carlo Ancelotti is the gentleman of football management, the cuddly figure nobody can hate and everyone would like to share a glass of wine with – and not just because you know he has the best choice of vino on the planet. He was the master of ‘soft power,’ the ability to navigate strong personalities and seemingly appease them while at the same time making his own decisions. However, in recent years, Carletto appears to have lost the power part and just gone soft.

Napoli is a tough place to work, everyone knows it, and none more so than this season. In the wake of losing Maurizio Sarri, there was always going to be some leeway for the first campaign and second place was not entirely disappointing. It was in his second season that we were meant to really see Ancelotti’s Napoli. We did, and that was the problem.

He seemed to remove all the attractive traits of Sarri’s well-worked, fast-flowing, all-attack football, changing to a 4-4-2 that nobody in the team appreciated, least of all captain Lorenzo Insigne. The poor results and dull performances were only part of the reason for Ancelotti’s ousting, as he was largely a victim of too many strong personalities clashing around him. Ultimately, Carletto was squished.

Sarri stood up to De Laurentiis and defended his players, which is what eventually caused his ugly exit from the club. This time, when the President started his usual meddling, Ancelotti tried to remain friendly with all sides, but was too weak to make himself heard in the typical Neapolitan chaos.

Perhaps the old Milan system of telling Silvio Berlusconi he’d follow tactical indications and then do what he really wanted to had been rumbled by ADL. Maybe we underestimated the importance of Adriano Galliani in acting as a buffer between coach, squad and President in the Grande Milan. Cristiano Giuntoli and Edoardo De Laurentiis are too embedded with the patron to be remotely objective.

Ancelotti’s soft power approach failed at Bayern Munich, too. It was already starting to lose its effectiveness at Chelsea. Maybe the Alpha Male is in fashion now in a world where everyone tries to out-shout the other and disguise it as debate. Perhaps kindness and decency are confused for weakness.

We all know when the Napoli balance shattered into a million pieces. It was the night of November 5, in that dressing room after the 1-1 Champions League draw with RB Salzburg, when the team rebelled against a club-ordered training retreat. Ancelotti had already said the day before in a press conference that he didn’t agree with the retreat, effectively giving his players the licence to stand up and walk out. He refused to speak to the media after the game, incurring UEFA fines to boot, and his fate was sealed.

We don’t know precisely what happened in that meeting, but none of the options are good. If Ancelotti took a neutral stance when the players refused club orders, that is a show of weakness. If he told the squad to go into the training retreat and they ignored him, then he held no power over them whatsoever. If he encouraged the team to abandon the hotel, then De Laurentiis would rightly feel aggrieved at his coach leading a mutiny.

Ancelotti has never really been a creator of teams, but rather a facilitator allowing champions to do their thing in unison. Whenever he has tried to impose radical change, he found these big personalities not only resisted, but actively pushed him aside to go straight to the source of power, the directors.

Ancelotti will always be that lovable figure, the man everyone likes and admires, but he was too nice for the cut-throat world of SSC Napoli. A stronger figure like Gattuso might not succeed either, because they all eventually have to deal with De Laurentiis and he will always be happy to break the whole squad apart as long as he gets his way. As long as ADL has his iron grip and insists on controlling every aspect of the club, the Partenopei can never truly thrive.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
I gave Gattuso instructions, I said villain Merens OUT, His highness Il Magnifico San Lorenzo IN, , he obeyed me like a dog, funny heh???
on the 14th December, 2019 at 9:18pm
@ITA is right. Luckily Italy has a new generation of players coming through that will make everyone forget about Insigne soon enough. He can then follow the footsteps of Giovinco and go make a lot of money in MLS or even China.
on the 14th December, 2019 at 5:41pm
He won Madrid their 10th and put the system in place for Zidane to basically baby sit.

Yeah, he's a horrible coach.

You're all jokers.
on the 14th December, 2019 at 5:34pm
Ancelotti is a dinosaur plus he has always been a very poor league coach.
on the 14th December, 2019 at 4:25am
Always felt Carlo was over rated. He had the best teams and did well in champions league in a tournament but always had trouble in the league. The Rino/ADL show will be interesting to watch.
on the 12th December, 2019 at 4:45pm
The insigne issue is not a factor he is the scapegoat actually most of time insigne played is when team did well. All the rumors were setup remember he is a movie director/producer so he can easily manipulate public and have rumors spread for end game or goal. Unfortunately they sacrificed the only person given time and a few key players who could have led them to promise land.
on the 12th December, 2019 at 4:15pm
Well written article in the end the fish stinks from the head. This team is built on for making money. It has the american model of finance profit at all cost. Qualification for UCL is good enough. This year it seams they are dropping out and ADL is nerovus as he does not invest any of his own $$ in team he reuses profit and purses from UCL & UEL. It all comes down to #s. Giuntoli is also part of problem with his sub par purchase. For me selling Jorghino was beginning of end,
on the 12th December, 2019 at 4:12pm
Insigne is another one of these so called 'stars' like mario Balotelli that have profited from the lack of italian quality. Amongst the rubbish we have Insigne looks like Italy's equivalent to messi in reality Insigne is an average player if he was in a team of big stars he wouldn't get a look in.
Anyone on here saying otherwise needs to wake up. Ask yourselves if the stars of today would be anywhere near the first team squad if players like Baggio and maldini were in their prime and available.
on the 12th December, 2019 at 3:42pm
Have to say I agree with Scarpetta’s theory, Insigne has some power Cammoristi friends it seems
on the 12th December, 2019 at 10:36am
Oii Ozzie, if you take the trouble to read my comments only on this page, you wouldn't be talking rubbish.If Barcelona thought anything of him,WHY DIDN"T THEY GET HIM THEN? "Il Totti di Napoli" delle mie gonadi, has been imposed on Bennitez, on Sarri, and on Ancelotti, the only one who dared put him on the bench, that's why he was sacked. Playing him,is playing with 10 men against 12, he is a liability, and anyone with a bit of sense can see that, obviously not you.
on the 12th December, 2019 at 6:43am sounds like you are a Juve/milan or inter fan and I am sorry for that!! if you look back at when Sarri was coaching, who was interested in Insigne... Barcelona not a Serie C1 team. Get your facts correct before blabbering please.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 11:58pm
IDK what's Sussy rambling how Ancelotti ruined Sarri's offensive 4-3-3 & changed it into 4-4-2. Is/was she blind? Sarrisimo style was attractive & entertaining, but way too predictable. Any team that could read it, was able to stop it, or if players were not at their best, it stopped itself. Carlo made Napoli play 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 & even change it during the game. He molded Napoli into technical & tactical PERFECTION. Remember 1st L'Pool game this year?
Now Rino? R.I.P. NAPOLI
on the 11th December, 2019 at 10:13pm
If INSIGNE was a fraction of a decent player, why is it that not one single club neither in in Italy, nor abroad has EVER wanted to buy him? Why is Raiola who's never had a problem selling any of his players, stuck with him for the last couple of years? Anyone with very basic knowledge in Football would know that Insigne is serie C1 level not more, in fact he is the biggest problem Napoli has i the last 8 years, Ancelotti refused that, he paid for it yesterday.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 9:09pm
ADL is making a mistake with Gattuso. I read another article on FI that mentioned he'd wanted Gasperini in the summer. I think he would have been perfect for Napoli. Still think he'd be perfect, specially if they don't re-sign Mertens and Callejon to better trim the squad for a 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-3. But now that Gattuso is signed for 18 months Gasperini probably won't happen (unless ADL changes his mind again in 6 months, which wouldn't be shocking). Even Spalletti would be better for this squad.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 5:32pm
Insigne is not to blame .. he is playing out of position. Insigne had 14 goals/ 13 assists and 20 goals/11 assists in the two seasons before Ancelotti showed up.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 4:29pm
@Scarpetta: One home Lorenzo Insigne is better than two stray Suso+Calhanoglu combined.
Watch this:
on the 11th December, 2019 at 3:58pm
The final season under Sarri, we played very pragmatic style. It was the second season where the mythical Sarrismo/Sarriball was played.
Sarri left quickly because ADL worked out that he had decided to leave for Chelsea so he had to move quickly and decisively.
ADL can be obnoxious at times but he is not to blame.
I read on another report here on FI that Ancelotti asked for a left winger and got Elmas, midfielder. No, he asked for a left winger and Napoli broke their transfer record for Lozano.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 3:34pm
The establishment media always lobby for Insigne to play at Napoli no matter what, but slaughter him every time he plays for the Azzuri, people don't wonder why. They know he is a big liability, and has not got what it takes to be a good footballer, let alone a world class one, worse playing him is like playing with 10 men against 12, he is the curse for Naopli, and Naples. Napoli could have won at least 3, or 4 scudetti, if he was not imposed on them, sadly, he kills any good energy around him.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 3:07pm
Very sad news, for once Napoli had a world class coach, he had to be sacrificed by the establishment media to protect "San Lorenzo, il Magnifico", Ancelotti knew he won't win a thing by playing him, because he knows no one wins anything with 10 men against 12,like his predecessors, and he did not accept the media imposing Insigne on him, that is why they did everything to get him sacked. I bet anything that Gattuso will have to play him no matter what.
on the 11th December, 2019 at 2:56pm
how many millions do I need to purchase Napoli?
on the 11th December, 2019 at 2:06pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.