Sunday February 17 2013
Drop Pandev for Insigne

Lorenzo Insigne is one of Serie A’s best players, so why is Napoli Coach Walter Mazzarri treating him as second class? Dave Taylor investigates.

You have to wonder just what Walter Mazzarri has in mind for Lorenzo Insigne. Will the Frattamaggiore fratello fall by the wayside, as many others have during the Napoli Coach’s reign? Good youngsters have shown their worth and then been dropped or even subbed during a game. Recall Catania last year, when Napoli were winning 2-0 thanks to some outstanding displays from the exciting young Argentinean defender Federico Fernandez. However, Mazzarri in his wisdom subbed him for Paolo Cannavaro and Catania equalised not long after.                

But this blog is about whether Goran Pandev or Insigne should start games and fresh evidence of Mazzarri’s short-sightedness was underlined even more recently. Lorenzo’s illness prevented him playing in the Europa League defeat to Viktoria Plzen. “I cannot weep for his absence and we didn’t lose tonight because Lorenzo wasn’t on the field,” insisted Mazzarri after the game. Obviously he learned nothing from Saturday’s lesson at Lazio, when Napoli were AWOL until Insigne came on for the second half.

Yet, surely it’s his job to encourage and organize the players for every individual game. To make matters worse, Mazzarri did not even start with Marek Hamsik on Thursday, leaving Pandev with a responsibility he patently cannot handle. It was the same in the Lazio game. Mazzarri needed a goal, yet the only reason he brought Insigne on was not out of forward thinking, but due to an injury just before half time. Immediately, Lorenzo turned the game around and forced a foul out of Andre Dias, who had to walk on eggshells after his yellow card. Eventually after pushing, probing and at one point, dribbling past four defenders, Lazio were pinned back and finally buckled as Hugo Campagnaro grabbed that precious point as the game ended 1-1.

In his limited time on the pitch Insigne completed seven dribbles, almost four times more than his nearest competitor Hamsik. Let’s not even go there with Pandev. Indeed in the build up to the game many Napoli fans actually hoped Pandev would get injured so Mazzarri would be forced to start with Lorenzo. 

The youngster has been in red hot form and no-one can figure out why Mazzarri prefers an out of sorts player who doesn’t seem to put any effort in and is unmotivated. If he played like he did last year no-one would bat an eyelid, but he isn’t and is the weakest part of the attack. It leaves the unanswered question what is the point of a rite of passage if it does not help turn young positive boys like Lorenzo into eager young football players?

In tactical and aesthetic terms Insigne recognises the dynamics of the game as soon as he takes to the field and is always acutely aware of his status in the game. Certainly there is a compelling argument that he should be third on the team sheet next to Edinson Cavani and Hamsik.

But all we get is the normal platitudes from Mazzarri about Pandev’s experience, not wanting to rush Insigne into things, etc. Lorenzo can hardly make a position his own or gain experience if he is not given a chance. 

He has started just 10 games but scored four times as a sub, while his fourth against Milan saw the Rossoneri equalise 18 minutes after he was subbed off. He has a successful passing rate of 89% from 518 total passes and five assists. He also has 1.9 shots per game with 46 shots all told in Serie A.

These stats show his understanding of how to hurt the opposition and compare very favourably to Pandev. The Macedonian started 16 games out of 19, while scoring twice with 1.4 shots per game and 26 shots in total, while making 421 passes a 76% success rate.

There is little doubt that Insigne contributes more, scores more and assists more, but it appears Mazzarri has never heard of meritocracy. Lorenzo has captured the hearts of the Napoli fans, a home grown scugnizzo, the bandiera which the tifosi crave for. 

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Have your say...
i have one thing to say : mazzari please dont come to inter , it will be another bad season for inter ,, i think he has the best squad and bench in seria A ,only juve has better midfield players
on the 19th February, 2013 at 5:57am
Daniel Giambrone, not only in my mind, but also in the minds of Roma, Inter etc who want to acquire Mazzarri's services as manager.
At the end of the day, he's a coach who has been big enough to move away from the norm and play his 3-5-2, wi. I agree, Napoli blew it on Sunday and look like they just don't yet believe in 1st place, but Mazzarri has transformed a club going nowhere to CL football. Tell me where else has this been done in Europe in such a short space of time, minus the trillions?
on the 18th February, 2013 at 8:02pm
I like Insigne as well, but he isn't playing THAT little. It's his first season in Serie A and already he's being fielded more often than not.

One might argue that he's currently better than Pandev but the amount of playing time in itself isn't the problem.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:48pm
Daniel you know your stuff and you make a lot of great points. I thought we where much improved in defense despite missing castan and dodo. Would like to see lopez get more minutes. Osvaldo played well despite a tough week. Atalanta next, hopefully another win. Hope consigli not on form. Napoli blew it today, like i said should put more into EL a cup they could have won.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:14pm
Certain individuals on here show a lack of respect which is a shame. I think playing 3 games in a week for pirlo perhaps has taken its toll. Pirlo got an injury against holland, maybe he isnt 100%.Im not unduly worried, although verratti should be getting more playing time in friendlies.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:07pm
Maradinamac10, "Mazzarri is one of europes top coaches, there is no doubt about that". Maybe in your mind perhaps. He is a good motivator. But is he a great tactician, man-manager, youth developer, media handler? The collapse against Chelsea, the terrible performances in the EL, & the failure to take advantage of Juve's slip-ups, tell me that he is not as good as you think he is. I'd argue that with the squad that he has at his disposal, he should be doing a lot better.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 4:35pm
All the Mazzarri bashers are crazy! People saying he has a better squad now than Donadoni had, true. But who made it that way? I remember when Mazzarri took over from Donadoni with the same group, and up the table they went.
Pandev is a much more experienced player, while Insigne is just a recent graduate from Seria B.
Mazzarri is one of Europe's top managers, and there is no doubt about that.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 2:08pm
Aidencav420, it is you that is the joke. At the time of writing, there was no section dedicated to last nights game, and so Sam, like myself, chose to write about that game, on this page. Also, they may be inconsistent, but Roma do not suck. I am a neutral, but find that they are the most entertaining side to watch. Grow up and try and show a little class, if possible!
on the 17th February, 2013 at 1:26pm
Also, playing Mesto ahead of Armero.....what???
on the 17th February, 2013 at 1:05pm
Mazarri is useless with youngsters and super defensive. Like a guy above me said, too concerned with tactical discipline and grit over individual skill. They should both be playing, Napoli are perfectly suited to play a 4231 with Hamsik, Insigne and Pandev supporting Cavani like Inter under Mourinho. I hope Mazarri leaves in the summer and Edu Vargas comes back.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 1:03pm
Sam di martino.... youre a joke. Roma sucks. Why would you comment about something irrelevant. ..
on the 17th February, 2013 at 12:35pm
I think Mazzarri is just 1 of a line of too many Italian coaches where athleticism and experience mean more than skills and you only have to look at his teams to know this. Napoli is strictly counter attacking with just 2 or 3 players with skills. 
on the 17th February, 2013 at 12:32pm
Maradonamac10, Mazzarri has done well, but don't forget that Donadoni & Reja had an inferior squad, i.e. no Cavani, Inler, Zuniga etc. I also tire of his constant threats to quit, and his public blaming of his players; when he should be looking at some of his poor decisions. If he does leave, then I am confident that someone like Guidolin or Dellio Rossi could do a great job.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 12:27pm
Dear Mazzari,
do anythng you want but we want results...
& Insigne is surely better than Pandev, give him more minutes...
on the 17th February, 2013 at 10:52am
Sam, all the Roma players had a great game, & the winning margin should have been greater. Although De Rossi can be a fruitcake at times-that challenge was ridiculous! I am starting to worry about Pirlo, he has struggled vs Holland, Celtic, & Roma. When teams harass him & play at a high tempo, both Juve & Italy get over run in midfield. I just hope that it is fatigue, rather than his age catching up with him. The run in looks to be exciting to the end, unlike the other Euro leagues.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 10:22am
IMO, Mazzarri is a good, not great coach. He is not good at developing youngsters, is tactically naive, & doesn't know how to rotate effectively. As for Insigne, he is my favourite Italian prospect. SES gets all the hype and plaudits, but I feel that Insigne is much more exciting to watch: his dribbling skills, passing, vision, & flicks really set him apart. I get so frustrated with Mazzarri for holding him back. He is 21, not 17! The 'very young' excuse is feeble!
on the 17th February, 2013 at 10:11am
He's big on patience, timing, 'not ready yet'. Done it to a heap of good players unfortunately.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 9:46am
Mazzarri has it in mind to leave Napoli at the end of the season. He may already have his spot at Inter reserved. He's trying to not showcase Insigne such that he can pry him away and take him with him to where he lands.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 9:23am

Joking aside, the lack of attention he's giving Insigne is baffling, specifically for the reasons you state, and a player like Pandev consistently being chosen ahead of him is bizarre. The only logical conclusion I can think of is that there is still a bit of old school in Mazzarri and he's wanting to really force Insigne, as a young starlet, to be hungry and truly fight and earn the top spot, which is something that is a given over the next few years.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 9:22am
Totally agree. Pandev is at best a bench warmer. If he was any good Inter would not have let him go! Insigne is fantastic, more goals and more assists than Pandev and yet starts as a sub! When Insigne comes on the whole stadium is eager and excited to watch him and that motivates the whole team when the crowd get behind the team. Forza Napoli.....maybe WE can do it this year!
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:42am
Insigne should start, he is top draw. Mazzari is a joke, just have to look at europa league attitude and pathetic peformances to see that. Hope samp beat them today.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:38am
Totti was immense last night and his comments this week have been great. We win as a team and lose as a team. The treatment of osvaldo by some so called fans is a disgrace. True fans dont behave like that and turn on the team. We are all fed up with the season but true fans get behind the team no matter what. Forza roma.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:32am
Grazie capitano, Grazie Roma. Noi siamo Roma. Che cuore Roma, che cuore. A great win, amazing performance. As i said a few days ago i had a feeling we would win. This win can change our season potentially, 13 games left, we need a good run now and try and finish as high as we can and win coppa.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 8:28am
If Napoli don't want him I'm sure Milan will happily take him and keep the evolution on Milan going with young Italian superstars, This Milan cycle will be around for the next 10 years, come on Galliani strike while the irons hot part exchange pazzini.

Forza Milan
on the 17th February, 2013 at 7:54am
Exactly my thoughts. Some of Mazzari's decisions baffle me. He is a good coach no doubt. but sometimes....

Insigne has to start. Pandev seems so lazy at times and he is a bit selfish too.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 7:44am
Yea. Pandev was always better and more affective coming off the bench but no doubt Insigne first choice.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 7:37am
Italian coaches are too arrogant,sometimes i wonder what is WALTER MAZZARRIS problem its obvious insigne is really performing than pandev,i just hope he realizes quickly
on the 17th February, 2013 at 6:09am
While I agree Mazzari is crazy for starting Pandev ahead of Insigne and that Insigne is a great young player with a great future ahead, He is far from the best in the league. Maybe scale back your excitement for the kid.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 5:37am
Glad to see this noted. Maybe Mazzarri sees Insigne as more effective as a sub against tiring teams but that can't be the only reson.

Mazzarri lost it after the 3-0 loss to PSV and singled out Vargas and Insigne, even though the score suggests the rest of the team was not right. It seems he hasn't gotten over this.

Not sure what's stranger, Mazzarri's lack of patience with Insigne or his abundance of it with Pandev.
on the 17th February, 2013 at 5:02am
Insigne is amazing, by far one of Napoli's best players. Just wait til the world cup. Balotelli, Giovinco and Insigne are gonna drive teams insane
on the 17th February, 2013 at 4:31am

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