Something has been on my mind for while. Over the past few weeks I have seen articles praising teams such as Roma, Fiorentina, Lazio, Parma and Sampdoria for runs of form and performances, and yet since the season started I have not seen many praising one of Serie A’s most improved sides.
Mr Nut-job and Mr Dependable
Now, I know the story of our season is still unwritten, being involved in a Scudetto battle and still in the Europa League, but lets look at it so far. we are having a damn good season.
Out of the 24 league games played to date, we have lost only four of them, two of which came in the period of the match fixing penalties, since reversed. One was a trip to Bergamo and the other was a defeat to Juventus in Turin. No shame in that.
A thumb for every point reinstated
Not to say the team has been a little lucky at times, such as last Saturdays trip to Rome proved. But this season we have a different mentality in games. Last season the problem was beating the provincial sides. This year the team has beaten the likes of Fiorentina, Parma, Cagliari, Chievo, Palermo, Genoa, Pescara and Catania, not to mention Udinese and Roma. We are beating the sides we drew and lost to last season.
All of this means that the team has now gathered 13 more points at this stage of the season compared to last year. Granted, last year the side had to contend with going full speed in to the UEFA Champions League, which did have an effect on Serie A form as the side was rotated, but the fact remains. The team is performing far better than last year.
Credit for this must go to Walter Mazzarri. He has created a team which can express itself when necessary and also produce professional performances. Take the 2-0 win over Catania for example. In the very same fixture last season we were in the same position, we took a 2-0 lead but then let the lead slip and it ended 2-2. This season, we went 2-0 up and then killed the game. The second half was so boring I nearly fell asleep. It was a professional kill job.
Since the departure of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mazzarri has given Marek Hamsik a free role behind the front two and he is having his best year yet. As a man not known for playing youth he has probably has used Lorenzo Insigne the best way possible at this stage in his young career. Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami have formed a formidable midfield partnership and despite what you hear about how the team defends, we are conceding less than one goal per game.
The Mo-hawked Maverick
And yet, their has still been time for the the old failings to show such as the 2-2 draw to AC Milan and the horror show that was the draw to Torino with THAT Salvatore Aronica back pass.
I have written this now, so knowing my luck I expect us to go on some sort of horror run and sink in to mid-table mediocrity like some other clubs I could mention, but it has to be said.
In all honesty we probably won’t win the league, we will probably just about scrape Champions League qualification after some sort of cock-up. Edinson Cavani will probably depart and we will head in to the summer with another ‘will he, wont he leave’ saga involving Mazzarri, however, If Zemanlandia and Montellamania can get column inches, then Manic Mazzarri’s Men deserve a bit of the same.
I feel better now.
Nobody can argue that under the ownership of Aurellio De Laurentiis and his Filmauro group, with the the expertise of sporting directors Pierpaolo Marino and Riccardo Bigon, Napoli have bought some great players. Mariano Bogliacino, Robeto Sosa, Paolo Cannavaro, Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani, all fine servants for the club. But it has not all been roses and wine.
For every good signing you can find an equally bad one.
Here, I will talk about what I feel were the five worst pruchases of the De Laurentiis era.
I think it is only fair that I choose players who are not part of the current first team squad at the moment as current squad members deserve a chance to prove themselves *looks at Edu Vargas*
Lets get this show on the road and in no order….
Ok. So after the success of Marek Hamsik, the then Sporting Director Pierpaolo Marino went shopping at Brescia again. This time he spotted this pretty tricky left winger. Marino was impressed ‘He reminds of Ronaldo’ (The Portugese guy). Napoli bought the player and things started out quite well with some impressive performances. Sadly, it was about to go all wrong….
Whilst at Brescia, Mannini and another Brescia player, Davide Possanzini were locked in the dressing room by Sersi Cosmi after a heavy defeat. This caused them both to turn up later for a mandatory drugs test. Napoli bought the player in January 2008 and WADA took up the case relating to the late drug test. Anyone that knows WADA knows they do not take this sort of things lightly. The player was sentenced to a one year ban which was later frozen on appeal. But the damage was done and he was later shipped off to Sampdoria after the ban was lifted. Shame. He could have been a great player if not for the ban.
Only Marino knows if he knew when he bought him that it could have ended like this……
‘We have inherited this matter when we acquired Mannini from Brescia…’ Marino said after the one year ban was handed out
COST - €7,000,000
What is it with Napoli and left sided players? Following Mannini’s ban. Napoli needed another left sided player. Jesus Datolo was indentified as the man to come in. He was avaliable and he was from Argentina, what could go wrong? Well he hardly played. In his brief spell at Napoli he played a total of 22 games in one year. He was a little unlucky to be coached by three coaches. Edy Reja, Roberto Donadoni and Walter Mazzarri. Only Mazzarri got anything like a decent performance out of him but he didn’t fit into his system. He was then shipped out of the club after apparently breaking the terms of his contract over image rights after posing semi naked for a ‘magazine’…….
COST - €6,000,000
Napoli were in need of a left sided centre back. Salvatore Aronica was not getting any younger (and lets face it, he is crap) so sporting director Riccardo Bigon was tasked with bringing in a young defender. Spaniard Victor Ruiz was identified as the man, and after tough negotiation (which included Jesus Datolo being ceeded to Espanyol) he was bought in January 2011. It was clear from the start that Walter Mazzarri did not fancy him. Aronica would continue to get games ahead of him and he would only play 6 times under Mazzarri. He was sold to Valencia in the next transfer window, the summer of 2011. It was even reported that he was sold for more than what Napoli bought him for, although has not been confirmed. But still, a complete waste of time and money.
COST - €6,000,000
Goalkeeper Gennaro Iezzo had been with Napoli since the Serie C days and was a true legend, but he was not getting any younger. Argentine keeper Nicolas Navarro was man brought in to eventually take over from the big man. On paper he looked excellent. Olympic gold medalist 2008 and FIFA Under 20 World Cup winner 2005. One problem, can you name a good Argentine keeper? No, neither can I. After he joined it was was rumoured he enjoyed the ‘night life’ of Naples a bit too much and he clearly put on a bit of weight. He never convinced when called upon. He was then loaned to River Plate in the summer of 2009
COST - €4,000,000
Why did we buy Erwin Hoffer? Roberto Donadoni was starting out on his first full season in charge. Napoli spent big on players like Luca Cigarini and Fabio Quagliarella. For a team which already had Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and German Denis, along with Quagliarella, why did Napoli need to buy him? I genuinely have no answer. I cannot explain this transfer whatsoever. The fact that three years later we still own the player and he is still on loan to German sides speak volumes of the complete waste of time, money and effort that was put in to sign him. THE worst signing ever made by Pierpaolo Marino.
COST - €5,000,000
NAPOLI 2 - 1 FIORENTINA
Napoli - De Sanctis, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Britos, Maggio, Dzemaili, Behrami (Inler,53), Hamsik (Donadel,90), Zuniga, Insinge (Vargas,81), Cavani
Fiorentina - Viviano, Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Tomovic, Cuadrado, Romulo (Seferovic,85), Pizzarro, Borja Valero, Pasqual (Fernandez,76), El Hamdaoui (Ljajic,69), Jovetic
Marek Hamsik 55min (N), Blerim Dzemaili 67min (N), Stevan Jovetic 87min (F)
Fiorentina had 16 shots on goal compared to Napoli who had 5
Lorenzo Insigne looks like a he is a Serie A pro and not a wonderkid. Miguel Britos looking very solid at the back, thankfully this means less Salvatore Aronica.
Valon Behrami was pretty wowful. He was pushed off the ball twice in the space of ten minutes. He was replaced by Gokhan ‘Lionman’ Inler who made an instant impact. Not a great game for the ferret head.
AND THE UGLY
That pitch. Aurellio De Larurentiis says the problem is caused by a virus. Whatever it and whoever is it blame the problem needs sorting as soon as possible.
(Picture - Il Mattino)
Two wins out of two is a great start to the season. Before the start I had budgeted for four points from the first two games so to come away with six is excellent. I thought Fiorentina deserved a draw though. Much like for periods against Palermo, I thought the midfield was not working correctly. The introduction of Gokhan Inler for the poor Berhami worked wonders. Walter Mazzarri must take some credit for identifying the problem and fixing it so early in the second half.
PALERMO 0 - 3 NAPOLI
Palermo: Ujkani,Cetto,Munoz,Von Bergen,Barreto (Dudan,80),Betrolo,Brienza(Migliaccio,29),Donati(Arévalo,55),Pisano,Miccoli,Hernandez
Napoli: De Sanctis,Britos,Cannavaro,Campagnaro,Aronica,Inler(Vargas,77),Behrami, Hamsik(Donadel,90) Maggio,Insigne(Dzemaili,61),Cavani
Marek Hamsik 45+3, Christian Maggio 79, Edinson Cavani 88
Salvatore Aronica completed 46 passes (81%) in the victory over Palermo playing at Left Wing Back
Source - LEGASERIEA.IT
Hamsik scoring in the first game of the season. Not noticing the back three and its good to see Edu Vargas getting an assist
Midfield going missing for the first 20 minutes of the second half and Maggio was lucky not to concede a penalty
AND THE UGLY
Well, that has to be Cavani’s miss….
It is always good to win your first game, and with it being away to Palermo made it better. Its always a tough place to come but Napoli were the better side for the small majority of the first half and took the chances which presented themselves in the second. A good start but Mazzarri know we have work to do
Following a recent number of crazy statements post match I though it was about time we rated games by the unique device called the ‘Mazzarri-o-meter’. It requires no introduction and you should recognise the quotes……
Following an outstanding performace, games will be rated with this
A decent perormace will be given this mark
An average performace will be awarded this
A bad performance will be given this
and an awful game will be given this……
Just a bit of fun for the long season ahead
Today was my final Olympic football match. Here are some images from todays game.
CLAMOROSO - PATO ON A FOOTBALL PITCH
Brazil team warming up
Neymar scores a controversial penalty
Neymar in the mix zone
I have a longer blog post ready to go tomorrow about my experience at the Olympics with more video and photos.
Will he stay or will he go? Can you blame him for thinking like this…
El Matador - Coming to a Premier League ground soon?
When Edinson Cavani spoke after the 2-0 win over Novara he sent medium sized ripples through us Napoli supporters when he questioned his own future in Naples. We are not stupid, we know Cavani won’t be at Napoli forever and we know how much every team in Europe wants a striker of his ability but nobody has made a firm bid, more than likely put off by his high asking price.
The worry is this. Since the Aurellio De Laurentiis era started non of our big players have wanted to move. You could argue Fabio Quagliarella but he was was more or less forced out. Other players have tried to send feelers out via agents (hello Mino Raiola) but these have quickly been battered away by the management. If Cavani’s comments are a smoking gun for a bigger issue then this may lower the Matador’s asking price and thus Napoli’s position maybe compromised as other clubs will know he wants to leave.
I personally feel that Cavani will stay if Napoli do finish third but it is likely that Napoli will not finish in the top three in Serie A and if I am honest a player of Cavani’s ability does not deserve to ‘grace’ the Europa League as will be likely if he stays, so it is up to De Laurentiis to do one of two things
1) Persuade Cavani that his future does belong at Napoli as we make a push for the top three next season
2) Sell him before he says anything more to dilute his value
An insight into whats inside Cavani’s mind came after the draw with Catania where he openly questioned the attitude of the team
‘We made so many mistakes and we lacked the desire to win……In football you need that kind of attitude, otherwise you cannot go anywhere’
If Cavani feels that about some of his team mates can you blame him for wanting to move away to somewhere that already has a winning mentality.
The other scenario is that he has seen Marek Hamsik get another new contract and rumors that Ezequiel Lavezzi could be getting a new deal also have surfaced so is this a way for Cavani to tell everyone ‘remember me’?
I am not so sure.
Cavani has ambition and he has the ability to grace the greatest of football pitches. If he truly wants to go then we should not stand in his way. He owes us nothing, just please let him go on good terms, unlike Quagliarella….