One year ago, Napoli won a trophy for the first time in six years, as the Partenopei lifted the Coppa Italia beating Juventus on penalties in the first game after the lockdown.
Fast forward just under ten months later and the Partenopei's coach Gennaro Gattuso is strongly rumoured to be leaving at the end of the current campaign. This is due to several reasons.
First of all, a breakdown in the relationship with the always headline-grabbing President Aurelio De Laurentiis and then an early Europa League elimination at Granada's hands. Not to mention the Azzurri are currently out of the top-four in Serie A.
However, is it really fair to sack Gattuso?
Until Wednesday's loss to Juventus in Turin, the two-time Scudetto champions were unbeaten in their last six games, including those against Milan and Roma.
They had also managed a 4-3 win over Serie A strugglers Crotone that had recovered from two goals down. That win proved the Azzurri are indeed fighting for their coach.
In this crazy Calcio world, coaches are always a few bad results away from the sack. The adage of "what have you done for me lately" is the norm of the day.
In Gattuso's case, many people tend to forget the former snarling midfielder took over a club in crisis in December 2019. He arrived when everyone seems to be against each other, in a situation that leaded to Carlo Ancelotti's sacking. Somewhat ironically, considering how close he and Gattuso are.
"Ringhio" gathered a squad in disarray and guided them to a trophy just months later.
Who can forget his celebrations when Arek Milik stroked home the winning penalty against Juventus? The world seems to have changed since then.
Napoli have exercised a "silenzo stampa" of late, but surprisingly, De Laurentiis tweeted his praise for the team after this week's defeat to Juventus.
The movie mogul stated: "Well done, lads. We leave with heads held high, and above all, I enjoyed myself to the end." Interestingly, it came after a loss versus an inconsistent Bianconerri team, whose own boss Andrea Pirlo, was under considerably more pressure.
Could it be the President's "own way" of calming the waters and giving his coach the "vote of confidence"? Maybe yes, but reports regarding Gattuso's Napoli exit have intensified, and it seems unlikely he will be the Napoli coach in 2021-22.
The fact that Gattuso had to deal with so many injuries during the season it's something that can't be ignored. Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens spent considerable time on the treatment table with shoulder and ankle ailments, respectively. Andrea Petagna also got injured in February, and Napoli found themselves without a fit centre forward despite having three in their team.
Imagine Inter playing without Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez for months. Or Juventus without Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata at the same time.
However, the 2006 World Cup winner is not without blame.
He has acknowledged that Napoli's issues are not technical or tactical but rather physiological, and it's his responsibility to send his team out with the right mentality onto the pitch.
Another issue pointed out by several Napoli fans is Gattuso's use of substitutions. The former midfielder has been accused of waiting too long to make changes, although this is a gripe that needs to be put into context with an extensive compact schedule.
Despite the difficulties, the product on the field has improved, as Napoli is more pleasing to watch and remain close to a top-four spot after today's 2-0 win against Sampdoria.
They have the third-best attack in Serie A, with 63 goals scored and the Azzurri have hardly disappointed since their strikers returned to action.
Osimhen has scored two goals in the last three games and the Azzurri can regret the most expensive signing in their history has been out of action for half of the season. Again, imagine what this Napoli side could have been with him fully fit for the entire campaign.
Gattuso has always blamed his teams for not performing up to the standards, constantly repeating, "it's my responsibility." That in itself is refreshing, as we live in a football world, where blame is quickly and often assigned and "passing the buck" is a common practice. That's why straight-talking is often not appreciated in football, especially in Serie A.
In late January, Gattuso stated, "My staff and I give our blood for Napoli." You can bet he will give that and more until the end of the season, before he part ways with Napoli, but there's no bout he would deserve way more recognition for what he’s done at the Stadio Maradona.