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.
What a Waste of Money - The Disastrous Deals of the De Laurentiis Era
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.
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.
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
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….
For the first time ever I found myself actually supporting the jeering of my side after an awful defeat. I am a staunch supporter of my side. I have supported my side through the good and more often the bad times. I always try to look for the positive in every performance, I have even praised Salvatore Aronica this season but on Wednesday something broke inside me. The 1-3 victory by Atalanta was a pitiful, shocking performance which marked the clubs third straight defeat in Serie A, the first time under Walter Mazzarri, but this defeat was unlike the previous two. This was bad, very very bad!
Getting beat by Juventus 3-0 is not nice but it is no shame to lose to Juventus in the current form. Being beat 3-1 by Lazio was a tough one to swallow as we deserved at least a draw and we were denied a clear penalty. But against Atalanta, for the very first time under Mazzarri I saw players that looked sorry for themselves and I saw a coach that looked broken.
The recent slump in form has been put down to tiredness and I personally do think that fatigue is a major factor at the moment. As a fan I feel drained of all emotions thanks to the inconsistent nature of our Serie A season coupled with the amazing Champions League and Coppa Italia runs. The players are tired, You can clearly see that in players such as Edinson Cavani, Walter Gargano and Hugo Campagnaro, but I then take a look at AC Milan who were so far off the pace against Chievo but still got a result and this showed me that its not all about being tired.
The problem is people like to blame one thing when something bad happens, people like a good scapegoat. It is very easy for those that do not watch Napoli on a regular basis to say for example the back three is not good enough or Mazzarri is clueless or that the team have an over reliance on a certain player. These irritations are symptoms of bigger problems for Napoli in Serie A.
I have tried to summarise these below
1) Tactial mistakes - The inability of Walter Mazzarri to find a Plan B has been exposed. This article by @rcammisola sums up my feelings better than I could, even in the last two games when we have played Blerim Dzemaili in the Christian Maggio role just so Mazzarri can stick to his 3-4-2-1 the coach has been made to look very silly. Mazzarri should have moved to a 4-3-2-1/4-3-3 but did not. He claims to be an innovator but has not done so. The last two games were perfect for Mazzarri to show he can be flexible but he failed.
2) Errors made in the transfer market - Riccardo Bigon should rightly get credit for the signing of Edinson Cavani but this does not mean he should be immune from criticism. As much as I like Blerim Dzemaili I do not understand what more he has brought to the team that a player such as Hassan Yebda was already providing. We just needed to spend €2.2Mill to sign the Algerian who was a popular and fully integrated member of the squad and yet we send him back to Benfica and then spent nearly fours times as much on the Swiss international. The free signings of Mario Santana and Cristian Chavez have completely failed and do not get me started on Ignacio Fideleff. I am happy we have brought in Edu Vargas, but should we maybe have let him stay in Chile until the summer and kept Giuseppe Mascara until the end of the season? Wasted money on players in positions already covered and free transfers which have not paid off means Mazzarri has had his hands tied to a degree.
3) Injurys and suspension in key positions - The injury to Miguel Britos before the start of the season has meant Salvatore Aronica getting more game time then is comfortable with me. Marco Donadel has been missing all season which has meant Gokhan Inler and Walter Gargano have played more often than was planned. The real killer blow though has been the injury to Christian Maggio in the Champions League second leg at Chelsea. From that very moment the current dip in form started, Juan Zuniga getting sent off against Juventus and his subsequent suspension has meant for the last two games we have not played with a right sided wingback, so back to tactics….
Mazzarri’s inflexibility coupled with the some mistakes in the transfer market have meant some players have been playing too many games and when coupled with the injury of Christian Maggio and suspension of Juan Zuniga the problems have been amplified the past couple of weeks.
As well as those things mentioned above I think Aurellio De Laurentiis needs to look at the things he has done. He has given a lot of power to Mazzarri recently. It is rumoured that at least one of the players signed last summer was of a direct result of Mazzarri demanding that player and not accepting any alternative whatsoever, this was said to be one of the main issues which meant he almost left last year as the dangerous game of brinkmanship took place between the coach and the president. Director General Marco Fassone is rumoured to be leaving and Sporting Director Riccardo Bigon has not signed a new contract yet. Instability at the top is not helping build a positive picture of life at Napoli.
I have personally felt Napoli are best when De Laurentiis has a firm grip of things. He needs to sort out the issues at director level and give clear instructions of what he expects of Mazzarri and the team. Looking back at comments made at the start of season I have no idea what DeLa expected, top 5, top 3, ‘continued growth’. How can you define ‘continued growth’? Meh
I think Mazzarri has earned the right to fix the tactical issues he has and now must practice what he preaches. I think Riccardo Bigon is still young and learning his craft as a Sporting Director so I hope he learns from the errors he has made and I still think Aurellio De Laurentiis is a canny business man who has been a success from day one. If we can learn the lessons from this season then the future is bright, if not then De Laurentiis could get the scooter ready for a couple of unsuspecting passengers….
Its incredible to be a Napoli fan at the moment. We continue to confound people with the progress being made in the UEFA Champions League. Yes, we are only half time in the tie against Chelsea, but if someone had told me Napoli would be 3-1 up to go into the second leg of a last 16 tie I would have chewed your hand off, but something is bothering me..
The three tenors
I watch a lot of Napoli, too much in fact but I feel too much of the credit has been attributed to Napoli’s perceived preference for playing counter attacking football.
We can be in no doubt that Napoli look very exciting when the attacking players are in full flow, but the actual number of goals scored in the Champions League because of a quick transition of the ball is actually very low.
Napoli have played seven games in this years competition so far, scoring at least one goal in each game and 13 goals in total. The source of these goals is very surprising,
Goals from build up play - 6
Goals from set pieces (Penalties, corners) - 5
Goals from counter attacks (a goal scored in an attack as a direct result of winning the ball from the opposition in a previous attack) - 1
Own Goals - 1
My own eyes do not deceive me. I do not doubt that Napoli play counter attacking football, they play it very well but the above statistics prove that we are more than just a counter attacking side. Certainly in European games, the counter attack is Napoli’s biggest foyle. Teams are so scared by the way we counter that they forget how to defend against simple build up play.
The other surprising statistic revolves around the number of goals conceded by Napoli in the competition. Seven games have been played and seven goals have been conceded, three of which were scored in one game by Bayern Munich. Napoli have played 24 games in Serie A and have conceded 24 goals. Napoli have the joint fourth best defence in Serie A along with Fiorentina, you would not guess that by the way Salvatore Aronica, Paolo Cannavaro and Hugo Campagnaro defended against Chelsea but the statistics do not lie. They are good honest pros who have played together for three years and know each other strengths and weaknesses inside out and they are backed up in goal by the more than able Morgan De Sanctis.
My point is this. Napoli are more than just a smash and grab team in European competition and Napoli can actually defend. If anything we are a contradiction. We play counter attacking football but most of our goals come from open play. We do not defend as well as we should yet we are no worse than in Serie A.
My own view of Napoli’s Champions League campaign is that Walter Mazzarri has produced a side which ‘laughs’ at you for not breaking down a back three of such ‘quality’, teases you by playing counter attacking football and punishes you for not doing the simple things right at the back. Long may it continue…
HAPPY NEW YEAR. Well, its been an awful long time time since i actually wrote anything, nearly three months infact. Instead of going through all that has happened since my last post (too much) so I thought I would look at the possible moves Napoli could/should make this transfer window.
At the end of December sporting director Riccardo Bigon finalised the singing of Eduardo Vargas from Universidad de Chile in a deal similar to that which brought Edinson Cavani to the club. At the conclusion of this deal Bigon said the market was now closed but president Aurellio De Laurentiis raised doubts about this when advising that the market is ‘permanently open’ if a bargain appears.
(Eduardo Vargas - the NEW Alexis Sanchez/Ezequiel Lavezzi/Jose Luis Calderon, delete as appropriate. Picture - Sport)
So is Riccardo Bigon going to have a quiet transfer window as he hopes? I doubt it…
Defense - The foot injury sustained so early in the season and so close to the end of the transfer window for Miguel Britos meant Napoli did not have enough time to find an adequate replacement. Luckilly Salvatore Aronica has performed as well as can be expected however he is out of contract in the summer. Aronica has been linked with a move to Atalanta but I see a situation similar to Michele Pazienza last year where he stays until his contract runs out and then departs. Outcast Leandro Rinaudo has been linked with a move away to Novara and is currently not training with the team.
(Rinaudo has scored more goals for Napoli than Mario Santana and Marco Donadel combined - FACT)
The return of Miguel Britos should mean we do not need to strengthen in this area however if someone like Salvatore Bocchetti should become avaliable then I think we should seriously consider a move with a view to Aronica’s contract running out in the summer.
Midfield - This is an area of the pitch where I look at the list of players we have and on paper you think ‘yeah, thats quite good’. Gokhan Inler and Walter Gargano have perfomed well but those that have came in last summer have not performed as expected. Blerim Dzemaili has had peaks and troughs when he has played. Mario Santana has not perfored to the standard I had expected and Marco Donadel has been conspicuous by his abscence. Napoli had a ready made replacement for Michele Pazienza in Hassan Yebda but decided against paying the €2.2 Million to keep a member of the team who had already been intergrated into the squad and performing well. I still think this was the wrong decision.
Napoli have been linked with moves for Antonio Candreva and Mehdi Benatia but the player I would like to see arrive would be Angelo Palombo from Sampdoria. I think he is an exceptional midfield talent and he has worked under Walter Mazzarri before. Christian Maggio and Hugo Campagnaro are testiment that Mazzarri can improve players he has worked with previouisly and I can see the same with Palombo if he was to join Napoli.
(The only sighting of Marco Donadel in a Napoli shirt…..)
Fiorentina are rumoured to have expressed an interest in Marco Donadel although Riccardo Bigon is insistant that he is going to be like a new signing this January. Mario Santana has been linked with a move to various sides and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Donadel or Santana leave this month.
Attack - Edinson Cavani is not for sale. Marek Hamsik is not for sale. Ezequiel Lavezzi HAS A RELEASE CLAUSE set at €31,000,000. If any club triggers this then he can go if he agrees terms, this is a fact Aurellio De Laurentiis has not tired in telling us all in the past.
In all honesty I can’t see Lavezzi leaving unless clubs get desperate towards the end of the window for a striker and trigger the clause. (I am looking at you Liverpool and Chelsea). Transfer windows have come and gone before where he could have gone and he has not departed so why should this one be any different?
(Two goals against Juventus have kickstarted the Pandynator’s season)
The arrival of Eduardo Vargas does raise major doubts over the future of Giuseppe Mascara who has not played very often. He has been linked with moves back to Catania and also Novara. Goran Pandev finding form recently should mean that no other moves should be made in this area.
Well, thats my opinion. Let the crazy mercato begin…….
“We are ready for Manchester and I am curious to see how Napoli will react to the spotlight on such a big stage.”—Curious? ‘Worried’ would be my choice of words - Walter Mazzarri looks forward to the Champions League game this week
A summer of lion masks, scooters and RELEASE CLAUSES but Napoli look in good shape ahead of the season
'Lion Man' points the way
It has been an eventful close season. No sooner had the season finished than it looked like Walter Mazzarri was on his way out of the club. Following ‘crisis’ talks with Aurellio De Laurentiis and Riccardo Bigon the tuscan tactician was confirmed for the coming season. Mazzarri’s backroom staff are also retained for another two years. The summer will be remembered though for De Laurentiis storming out of the draw of the Serie A fixtures after being dealt a bad hand and then riding on the back of a strangers scooter. A truly idiotic and legendary performance.
Napoli kept hold of every star player this summer. Edinson Cavani signed a new contract after his breakout year last season. Marek Hamsik was NOT AC Milan’s ‘Mr X’ and despite the best efforts of De Laurentiis mentioning that Ezequiel Lavezzi has a RELEASE CLAUSE he remains a Napoli player.
Napoli underwent a revolution in midfield.Out went Hassan Yebda, Michele Pazienza,Jose Sosa and Manule Blasi. In arrived Gokhan Inler, putting an end to the ‘transfer saga’ which seems to have went on forever. Fellow Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili has been signed from Parma while both Marco Donadel and Mario Santana arrive from Fiorentina.
The defence has been strengthened with the signing of Miguel Britos from Bologna although he will miss the start of the season after breaking his toe. Argentine international defender Federico Fernandez joined up with the squad this summer following his signing in January and Napoli bought Ignacio Fideleff from Newell’s Old Boys towards the end of the transfer window.
In attack Napoli brought in experienced striker Goran Pandev from Inter on loan for the season and in the most bizarre transfer of the summer Cristian Chavez from San Lorenzo, a player who has been on loan for two season to Argentine second divison side Atletico Tucuman last season
Napoli’s OTHER Swiss midfielder
Can Edinson Cavani have a season like last year? It will be tough. He has been playing ‘non-stop’ for two years and yet to have a proper rest after the Copa America. Having said that he didn’t have much of a pre season last year after the World Cup and we all know how that ended. If he continues to get the level of support from Marek Hamsik and Ezequeil Lavezzi then he could go close to last seasons goal scoring efforts. The arrival of Goran Pandev should mean ‘El Matador gets more rest through the season which can only benefit him and the team in the long run.
One to Watch
Mario Santana arrived on a free transfer from Fiorentina this summer and could be a revelation. He is very versatile. He can play on either wing, as an attacking midfielder and also a second striker. He has bags of talent. He is a huge upgrade on Jose Sosa. If Napoli can keep him fit he may well rekindle his career in Naples. He can be a very special player.
Santana meets the boss….
I am not really a predictions person (i predicted Juve to win Serie A last season). A couple of things to bear in mind. Napoli have added players from a position of strength while other clubs have done so out of necessity and although Napoli were knocked out in the round of 32 in the Europa League this didn’t effect the team and actually aided them in the long run as the team had one goal in mind, Champions League qualification.
If Napoli get knocked out early (and with a group Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Manchester City it looks that way) I don’t think it will affect the team. Napoli are stronger than last year, have a longer bench than last year and have an excellent motivator with Walter Mazzarri in charge. Time will only tell if they have strengthened enough to catch up with AC Milan and hold off the likes of AS Roma and Juventus.
Well that is my little preview for the season. Due to work commitments I sadly will not be able to update this as much as I would like however I will still be around twitter @napoliblogger and I will still be posting the odd titbit on here.
“The people of Naples have won my heart and guided my hand: I wanted to play for these people. Now I am one of you, I’m one of the boys! Ever since I was a kid, Dino Lamberti (Inler’s agent) has always told me about Napoli, about Troisi, Totò and Diego, and he taught me to love the city.”—Statement from Gokhan Inler on his website.. http://inler.ch/?112A0A2A9143&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
“I spoke to Inler’s agent and have asked for a meeting to finalise everything. If Inler does arrive, then Vidal will not”—Aurellio De Laurentiis speaking to Radio Marte, more here http://www.football-italia.net/jun24u.html
It has been a fantastic season to be a Napoli fan. A Europa League run, Champions League qualification, Edinson Cavani breaking out. So many excellent performances and a few which could do better. Here is my rundown of the squad from the 2010/11 season.
Morgan De Sanctis 8.5/10 - My favourite player this season and for me Morgan was the best keeper in Serie A last term. The custodian went three months unbeaten at home during the season and kept the 3rd highest number of clean sheets in Serie A, never mind this, at the post season party De Sanctis proved to be a star turn taking to the mike and singing much to the shock of Aurellio De Laurentiis
Salvatore Aronica 5 - After a decent season last term Salvatore has went backwards this term, a number of costly errors (AC Milan away?????) and awful tackles (David N’Gog’s leg is lucky to be in one piece) yet somehow he keeps his position in the team. Shocked he has not been sent off once in the league.
Victor Ruiz 6 - Bought in January and not started many games for Napoli, in each game he has played he has started jittery and then looked comfortable after 20 minutes or so. Thrown in at the deepend against Villarreal in February and was solid. With a summer to prepare I think we will see the real Victor Ruiz next season
Paolo Cannavaro 7.5 - Captain fantastic has enjoyed an excellent season. He has been a rock at the back for Napoli this season alongside Hugo Campagnaro. Has improved his timing and positioning in certain situations such as corners and even scored twice this term. It will be interesting to see how he gets on the Champions League next season against real quality forward lines
Hugo Campagnaro 8 - One of the most important players in the team. Hugo Campagnaro is essential to Napoli’s attacking play, yes he is a centre back but he so many times has been the extra man bombing forward on the left and the right starting attacks and helping outnumber the oppostion in midfield. He is an excellent reader of the game and has made more interception than any other Napoli defender, so underrated. Really missed when suspended or injured as the replacements can’t fill his role in full.
Gianluca Grava 6.5 ‘Gr-avatar’s season ended early after sustaining a knee injury half way the season. He is more than just a hacker. Playing on the right he does much of the dirty work which allowed Christian Maggio to concentrate on attacks. Prone to the odd error and awful challenge but his season will be rememberd as a good one while it lasted.
Emilson Cribari 5 You could sum up Cribari’s season with one video, how on earth did he miss from one yard out?
Fabiano Santacroce 5.5 Frozen out the side earlier in the season and was a bit part player throught, coming in for injured or suspended players. His agent did threaten to use Article 17 to free up his client if he didn’t play. He played but did nothing to enhance his reputation.
Christian Maggio 8 What a season for ‘Super bike’. One of the few to come back from the World Cup in South Africa any sort of untarnished reputation and has went on from strength to strength. I was worried after his serious knee injury last year how he would cope with a World Cup last summer and a full Serie A season but he has been tremendous, causing problems against virtually every side he has faced with his pace on the right and his passing. Now a Italy regualar under Prandelli and fully deserved.
Andrea Dossena 6.5 He may well be a Liverpool reject but for the most part Dossena has peformed well. Yes he did go missing in both games against Liverpool and against Inter Milan in January but his crossing has been excellent. Often finding the head of Edinson Cavani, slightly lacking in the defensive part of his game I feel but he had a decent season overall.
Juan Zuniga 6.5 A victim of being jack of all trades. The columbian international is a wonderful player to watch at times, sadly doesn’t get the chance to play as often due to those ahead of him. He has played left back, right back and in the Lavezzi role when ‘Pocho’ was suspended. Always has a trick just lacks a bit of pace. I feel an important team player for the Champions League next season. Scored the goal agaisnt Inter that secured Champions League football next term.
Luigi Vitale 5 Only started two games for Napoli in Serie A yet has scored two goals in the Europa League. Not good enough to start in Serie A. Was once a promising left back a couple of years ago. He has the ability just not at Napoli.
Walter Gargano 6 A season of two halves for the small Uruguyan. Before Christmas was excellent, after Christmas Gargano was awful. Dropped for part of the second half of the year. A player that looked out of his depth at times even though he has been at Napoli since 2007. Having said that his passing percentage is one of the best in the team at 83% and his form did pick up in the last three weeks of the season so all hope is not lost.
Michele Pazienza 6.5 I will get this out the way, I don’t like Pazienza. I feel he represents all that was wrong in the last days of Pierpaolo Marino, overspending on mediocrity…. HOWEVER he has not performed as badly as I make out. Despite what I see with my own eyes he has a pass completion percentage of 84% and obviously was a man Walter Mazzarri trusted. Now off to Juventus on a free.
Hassan Yebda 7 I was a little underwhelmed towards the back of the Summer 2010 mercato when Napoli announced they had signed Hassan Yebda. I had seen him at Portsmouth and thought he was OK but not suited for Serie A. Started off slowly to begin with making sub appearences but has now overtaken Walter Gargano for a starting spot. He is strong, commanding and he is the best passer in the Napoli side (87%). He has won over the other players, fans and Mazzarri with his work rate. Thankfully signed on a permanant basis from Benfica
Jose Sosa 4.5 ‘The Prince’ as he is known has totally underperformed. I had seen a number of times and was excited by his arrival. Seeing him in the past I thought he would be perfect if we wanted to give Marek Hamsik or Pocho Lavezzi a rest but he has looked totally out of his depth. Only started 7 games for Napoli. A return to Argentina is on the cards.
Cristiano Lucarelli N/A Injury struck before the Serie A season started but he regained fitness and came back towards the end of the season and scored a goal against Juventus on the last day.
Beppe Mascara 6 Signed in the January transfer window. I was Sceptical at his purchase and he looked like a small fish in a very big pond at times but he found his feet and performed well against Bologna when called upon in the abscence of Edinsion Cavani.
Nicolao Dumitru N/A Signed from Empoli in the summer but will end up returning. Not quite sure what Napoli planned to do with him. He made nine sub appearances in Serie A (all in the first half of the year) and then was shipped off to the Primavera, baffling.
Ezequiel Lavezzi 8 El Pocho’s best season at Napoli. When he isn’t playing you can tell as we all saw when he was suspended following a spitting incident against Roma. Has twice as many assists as his nearest rival in the team with 12 in total. Scored from six yards out…sitting on his bum and chipping the keeper against AC Milan. Infuriating as he is brilliant, that is Pocho….
Marek Hamsik 7 I can’t criticise Marek can I? All he did was score more goals this season than he has done in previous seasons with Napoli (11). Its not been a vintage year though. Missing in big games (again) and looked tired towards the end of the season. Chipped in with six assists though. We know he has the talent, for goodness sake show it more often Marek.
Edinson Cavani 9 The sensation of the season. Five hat-tricks since he joined Napoli (one at International level), 26 Serie A goals, 31 in total for the season, thats his goal scoring but he has the joint second highest number of assits for Napoli with six and who can forget his cameo’s in defense. Blotted the notebook with a sending off againt Lecce at the end of the season however. Extended his contract with the club at the end of the season.
All good things come to an end, and the same can said of the 2010/2011 Serie A season. I thought I would share some of my favourite pictures month by month which defined this season.
The season got off to a shocking start as Fabio Quagliarella was benched against Elfsborg and then sold that night to Juventus
Edinson Cavani scores the winning goal against Sampdoria in Genoa. Sampdoria would end the season being relegated to Serie B. Cavani would end up with a headache after this meeting of minds with Walter Mazzarri
Napoli meet Liverpool at Stadio San Paolo in a Europa League Group K tie, bothsides would end up getting through the group.
Marek Hamsik keeps his hair in check after scoring against a Bologna side who hadn’t been paid in weeks in a 4-1 victory.
The game against Lecce before the winter break will be rememberd for Edinson Cavani’s wonderstrike, seconds before that Gianluca Grava prevented a certain goal with this save
Edinson Cavani - Hat-trick goal - Juventus
Hassan Yebda and Ezequiel Lavezzi with heads bowed as Napoli get knoecked out of the Europa League by this seasons semi finalists Villarreal 2-1
Napoli comeback from behind to beat Parma away, I am not sure what ‘Pocho is doing here
Cavani earns the matchball after an amazing three goals against Lazio in the game of the season, Napoli run out 4-3 winners
Napoli secure the point they need against Inter Milan to secure direct qualification to the UEFA Champions League