Francesco Calzona says Napoli owe it to themselves and to the fans to pick themselves up and try to finish a difficult campaign on a high.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Sunday's clash with Roma, a week after the Azzurri's 1-0 defeat to Empoli, the coach began by offering a frank appraisal of his time at the club.

“Our defeat to Empoli highlighted various problems and that was a worry for me. The lads were demoralised afterwards but I've spoken to the team and they all know we have a duty to respond with character.

“I'm the first one who must take responsibility. I'm the coach and it's my job to manage the group. I hope that in the remaining matches we'll see motivation and pride – that's even more important than quality football.

“We've wasted numerous opportunities to get into mix for the Champions League spots. There's no point looking at the permutations now. We just have to take each game as it comes – starting with a big performance against Roma. We need an all-round performance, both with and without the ball. I hope to see the team play well tactically but also with character.

“The purpose of the two-day training camp we've had was to spend as much time together as possible. It was a decision taken together with the club and I'm in favour of it because right now we're underperforming in lots of areas. It's not a punishment – it's to help us be more productive. I've seen the right of energy in the last few days and I'm confident we'll see a good performance on Sunday.

“Of course I didn't expect to have this many problems when I joined but I realised the problems were bigger than I thought after a few days here. There are lots of factors at play. We obviously can't compare this Napoli team to last year's because lots of situations have changed and because last year was a magical season.

“The players must take responsibility for the situation we're in – we all have to. I try to give everyone chances and I pick the team based on what I see on the training ground and then in matches.

“As I said, we are the ones responsible – me and the players. The club lets us get on with the job. The president is very respectful and supportive at all times. It's up to us to show our pride and take responsibility all together.

“It's been a tough year but that doesn't mean we have to end it badly. I won't have that. We need a reaction. I've told the lads that and the signs I'm seeing are promising.

“We're professionals, we're paid good money and we're doing the job we dreamt of doing when we were kids. We shouldn't be distracted by any rumours about the future. We have to live with the stories flying around because it's part and parcel of this job, whether you're a coach or a player. Our future depends on what we do now. It would be too easy if we only ever received praise. You have to be able to accept criticism too.

“The fans always support us home and away. But we have to earn their support and feed their passion. It makes me sad to see the stadium full of fans and not be able to give them the performances they deserve. I find it very hard to take.

“On Sunday we need a great performance both for our fans and to shake ourselves up and get out of this difficult moment we're in.”

Share the article with your friends and support the team

Share the article with your friends and support the team

URL Copied to clipboard!