Thursday February 25 2021
Gattuso: 'Napoli mustn't get depressed'

Gennaro Gattuso again asked the media to spare his players after Napoli crashed out of the Europa League, but blasted Granada for ‘time-wasting.’

The damage was done in the first leg, losing 2-0 in Spain, so this evening’s 2-1 victory in Naples was not enough.

“We conceded another absurd goal today after a ricocheted shot. We should have pride and regret, because even over two games we showed that we have something more than them,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

“Those who represent Italian football have to make our presence felt more, because over the last few days I’ve seen some incredible things on the field. If an Italian team dared do what Granada did today with the time-wasting, we’d have been on all the front pages.

“In the first half, we played about 16-17 minutes of football and in the second half it was even worse. I think there ought to be respect and if there isn’t, then we need to make sure we are respected. The referee can’t lose three minutes every time there’s a foul.

“If an Italian team does that, we’ll get massacred in all the papers.”

Gattuso was also referring to some other controversial decisions that have gone against Italian sides, for instance the penalty denied to Lazio and red card to Atalanta.

The coach had said before the game that he wanted the media to blame him and not the players, a message he reiterated afterwards.

“The team needs to stay calm. People need to make life difficult for me and leave the players alone. I make the choices to play with three or four in defence, I am the first person responsible.

“This jersey weighs on players, we haven’t been able to really work in training for months. Give me the responsibility, the players just have to focus on giving their best and recovering.”

Napoli are now out of every tournament, can they realistically aim for fourth place in Serie A?

“If we don’t get depressed, yes. There are still 17 games to go, there are many points up for grabs. We have to look forward and manage to become a team that knows what it wants and what it needs to do.

“We are getting too many basic concepts wrong, but it can happen if you want to play out from the back and don’t work on it in training. It’s going to be a risk.”

Dries Mertens made his comeback, although he was only meant to be on for 10-15 minutes and played over 30.

“His ankle hurts less, his run is more fluid. We went a bit overboard today as we wanted to turn the tie around.”