Monday November 30 2020
Gattuso’s iron fist

Gennaro Gattuso speaks straight, both with Napoli fans and players and seems to have brought that change of mentality the club desperately needed, writes Ciro Di Brita.

It hardly comes as a surprise that Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso expects his men to give 100%, as the World Cup winner was renowned for his grit and determination as a player.

The attitude of the Milan legend has had quite an impact in the Partenopei’s results so far this season. Napoli are six points short of table leaders Milan despite having been handed a 3-0 defeat by default against Juventus and docked one point.

They sit fourth in the Serie A table together with the Old Lady and remarkably won their last home game against Roma 4-0. The best possible way to honour the memory of club’s legend Diego Armando Maradona.

Gattuso’s approach seems extremely different from the one of his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti who coached him at Milan, leading the Rossoneri to winning two Champions League and one Serie A title.

Ask Mario Rui and Faouzi Ghoulam, for example. In the build up to the Neapolitans’ 1-0 win at Bologna before the international break, the duo were omitted from the playing squad heading to Emilia-Romagna for disciplinary reasons.

Gattuso told reporters after his side’s win at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara that the pair had been banished to the stands as punishment for jogging around in training, which is a sin in the coach’s books.

Mexican winger Hirving Lozano had also come under fire from the Calabrian tactician during the summer for not putting in enough effort in between matches.

The Mexican seems to have benefitted from Gattuso’s no nonsense approach and is one of the Azzurri’s best players this season, after finding himself on the periphery of the team last term. His five goals in 12 appearances so far this season prove it.

However, there could be a deeper schism at play here with Gattuso telling Ghoulam that he does not care if he upsets agent Jorge Mendes (who is also his agent) for sending his client to the stands.

The Algerian left-back has barely featured since his knee injury in 2017 and has become a token player wheeled out whenever the sun is shining.

The 29-year-old’s time at the San Paolo is surely running out and he could be making an exit in January if the right offer comes in for him.

Mario Rui, on the other hand, seems to have benefited  from Gattuso’s iron first. He started both Napoli’s Serie A games after that Bologna clash, against Milan and Roma. He, therefore, appears to have proved Gattuso he can still rely on him despite what happened before the break.

It is no coincidence Napoli are performing so well under their ‘new’ tactician, even if the Azzurri still need to find continuity of results.

The former Italy midfielder is not afraid to talk straight. And it does not only happen with his players, but it occurs with fans as well.

Gattuso reproached Napoli supporters after they had flooded the streets of Naples to honour Diego Armando Maradona.

Campania is a “red” region and people should not leave their homes unless they have working or heath reasons, in order to prevent the spread of COVID.

“There is a sense of sadness, but at this moment I think the city must also show common sense. I am seeing too many people going around without their masks,” he told Sky Sport after Napoli’s win over Roma.

“Maradona is a legend, everyone knows that, and I understand the desire to express that affection, but I hope from tomorrow the city will get back to being sensible, or we’ll all pay the consequences later.”

He was surely braver than many Italian politicians.

As for what happens onto the pitch, Napoli are arguably the exact type of team to need a hard taskmaster as their mentality and determination has been called into question for years and under many different coaches.

Seems like an obvious thing to have to say but the only way to change their mentality and grit is on the training field and if any players aren’t putting in a shift, then Gattuso won’t be afraid to call them out on it. 

Have your say...
"Gattuso expects his men to give 100%", except for the untouchable his smallness, and not so Magnifico, the "no-Totti of Napoli" who no matter how embarrassingly bad he plays, he's got to play all the time, no matter what. He is costing Napoli at least an 8th scudetto.
Fortunately have a fantastic player everyone envy us for; "Koulybakalobo"what a player...mamma mia...
@Milan fan, why don't you go for a swim and spare us your non sense?
on the 14th December, 2020 at 1:20am
@Milan Fans, hey mate, I am also a Milan fan just like you, but didn't we sack Rino for Giampaolo who was arguably 'more tactical' and where did that bring us? :(

I think the right mixture of both are needed. You could be the best tactical coach in the world but without hunger and grit, your team wouldn't play at their most potential. Rino might not be the most tactical coach there is but let's give him a few years, IMO the jury is still out. So far, he's doing great.
on the 4th December, 2020 at 12:53pm

I understood what you're trying to say the first time, and I think it's wrong.

In my opinion, tactics and knowledge of the game comes first, everything else is secondary.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 10:25pm
@Milan Fan
Who has better players and managers today then PSG or Liverpool or ManCity and perhaps Juve, but they are not ensured victory on the pitch every game nor championships.The intrinsic desire to win, to succeed must come form the manager and the player. My commentary on Gattuso is only to say that he can inspire his team to go beyond their skill to compete at a higher level in order to win versus teams with superior talent. I hope ne succeeds much like Ibra leads Milan.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 6:30pm
@Milan Fan
No, you'll never be Maradona and no i will never be a Psychiatrist.
I am not saying that tactics are not important in team sports, perhaps secondary.
Probably no player was more confident than Maradona or for that matter, Messi or Ronaldo today. Their confidence provides leadership as well. That said the list of tactical failures from last years CL come to mind: Guardiola in the quarter finals, or Juve vs Lyon, or Atatalanta vs PSG all tactical failures by their manager and team.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 6:22pm
@Torre DG

You mean to tell me that if I believe long enough and hard enough, I could be a better player than Maradona? Good to know. Don't tell me you're a psychiatrist.

The way I see it, football is a team sport, and if you're 11 move better and limit the better opponent, then you might win, and that's tactics. Now belief plays a part, but there's no way it's more important than tactics or quality.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 3:30pm
gattuso has made it difficult for himself taking on the milan and napoli jobs. still the napoli players needed a kick after last year mutiny. it is exciting to see how gattuso ideas will be brought in to this napoli side.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 10:15pm
@Milan Fan
Thank you , you have made my case.
Some teams have such great belief and drive that they can overcome teams that have higher paid and often more skilled players.
Ranieri ( Leicester) did not have the best team but led his team to believe that they could beat anyone and win the League ... and they did.
Confidence, selflessness, grit, toughness are psychological qualities that can help any player achieve more than their skills learned and lead to success, of course smart tactics help.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 8:51pm

Wow, based on your observation, I could be a successful coach, too. I just have to find someone to entrust me with his club.

If what you said was true, we would never have underdog winning teams like Leicester or the Greece team which won the Euros. They didn't have half the players of their opponents, but they did have masterpieces of tactics.

On the other hand, we've had many big teams with fantastic players underperform, like Juventus right now, because the coach is incompetent.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 4:44pm
Tactical coaching in football is perhaps one of the most over rated aspects of the game. We have seen many "tactical coaches" handed there walking papers,unsucesssful, defeated.
Great players, with great desire on any team sport can make a manager or coach look like a genius but the right touch never hurts.
Gattuso is a winner and has had to translate a tough competetive desire to Napoli a team that has been psychologically fragile. This is his responsibilty as coach and this will be his legacy.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 2:07pm

Hence why I said anything major. A trophy earned after a couple of games is not the result of his tactical prowess. He didn't even go all the way. I think he was only in charge for the semi-final and the final.

Even Montella won a super cup, is he a genius now? Going one step further, Di Matteo won a few matches and the Champions League for Chelsea, would you sign him for your team? Yeah I don't think so.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 3:02am
Mr. Milan Fan,

He just won the Coppa D'Italia.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 11:16pm
Tactically, Gattuso is a limited coach and you can only go so far with grit alone. He won't win anything major. His teams might win some matches, but then they will lose some and go into crisis mode. It's his pattern.

He has improved since his time at Milan though, I'll give him that.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 8:30pm

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