Walter Mazzari opened his first press conference of the year with his hopes for Napoli in the second half of the season. The Azzurri coach still has faith despite recent performances.

“I want to turn it around in 2024. I trust that in the new year we can really do well in the second half of Serie A.

“I’m disappointed the squad is in this situation because against Monza we created a lot and we deserved to win. We weren’t lacking in creating chances but in finishing.

“I feel at home at Napoli. What makes me uneasy is that I haven’t yet managed to do what I did during my first time here. I feel indebted to the fans, who show so much love every day. I try to pass that feeling on to my players too and I’m convinced that soon we’ll reach a positive turning point.”

On Napoli’s new signing Pasquale Mazzochi:

“Mazzochi is an exceptional lad. He’s very motivated. He was born in Naples and has lots of energy. This is something very important to me because anyone who comes in with this type of enthusiasm can transmit that to their team-mates.

“He’s a quality player. He can play in more than one position and is a jack-of-all-trades. He can give a lot. I’m happy he’s here.”

You haven’t got many players available. Is that a worry?

“Yes. It’s a point we have to talk about because since the Bergamo match, my first game, we’ve had injuries and breaks that have impacted us. I’d also like to see a change in this respect in the new year.

“I’m a bit worried at the moment because I’ve got a few players out tomorrow. I’ve got doubts over Juan Jesus and Gianluca Gaetano. We’ll see after today’s training session how things are going.”

Do you think you’ll have to make a tactical change?

“I’m not going to use a three-man defence. I haven’t done it over the past few months, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve heard a lot of talk over the past week, but you need to look at things closely. Against Monza, we ended the game in a 4-2-4. We had a great chance created by Giovanni Simeone for Gaetano, both of whom had only just been subbed on.

“This means that beyond formations, the efforts to get a win were there. We haven’t had much luck or precision in front of goal, but I said to the lads that if they continue to create chances, the goals will come.”

What type of game are you expecting from Torino tomorrow?

“We’re up against a great team that have become even stronger. Torino defend well but also know how to attack. We’ve got to give a performance similar to that against Monza. I liked how the team played.”

Who will replace Victor Osimhen?

“I’ve got two different forwards who are both very good. I’ll decide who to play depending on the characteristics of the match and the game situations. It’s my choice and I know what Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori can give me. Simeone is a great lad. He’s invaluable to his team-mates and he always trains well. It never seems like he plays less. That’s something very important for me.”

What do you think of Napoli at the moment?

“I’m trying to work on performance. I’ve seen that the team concede less and create more. But right now, we’re missing the ability to convert our chances and finish. We get in front of goal easily but we’re not precise enough. If we improve in this respect, it will help us grow and do well in the future. Unfortunately, opinions have changed due to our results, and we have to accept that.

“Napoli are a team that were made to play football. We need to keep the ball on the ground and move it around. We created lots of good chances against Monza by doing that. Goals can come from set-pieces and we’re looking for solutions in that sense too, even though we haven’t got many taller players.”

On questions surrounding referee decisions:

“With all the technology we have nowadays I find it astonishing that opponents can get away with winding up a forward off the ball. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia for example is constantly being targeted by opponents. He gets all kinds of abuse and isn’t protected. I was sent off between a clear foul on Mario Rui and a booking for Kvara, who had been targeted the whole match. With all the tools we have at the moment, things like this can’t happen.

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