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.