“I enjoyed being on the training camp,” explained Walter Mazzarri on the eve of the home clash with Salernitana, as he looked back at an unusual week for the Azzurri.
“It allowed us to work together for so many hours and I’m sure the team will be brilliant tomorrow.
“The players have to be content with the decision to go on a training camp at this time because they also need to realise that they need to produce more. Following on from a defeat, everyone needs to push harder to want to be united and make amends as soon as possible.
“I’m pleased with the way we’ve worked this week. We’ve stuck together and done things with more time at our disposal. I welcomed this retreat with great enthusiasm and I believe it’s done us good. It’s clear that we’ll see the answers on the pitch. I think Napoli will play better tomorrow.
“Unfortunately, the only game where we really got it wrong was against Torino. We’ve performed well in the other matches since I’ve been here, regardless of the results. The team has played well and put good moves together, especially in the one against Monza, which, as I’ve said before, we deserved more from.
“The sour note came against Torino, which was a negative match that I take full responsibility for. Maybe it’s down to the workloads that we’d carried out beforehand. I’m now confident that the team is going to get back to our usual performance level.”
Are you thinking about a tactical change?
“I’m matured as a coach from when I came here at the start of my career. During this period of voluntary rest, I’ve closely studied the 4-3-3 formation, which is the one I intend to keep using because it’s the one that is best suited to this team, which is capable of performing so brilliantly.
“It’s obvious that you need suitable players to play in a certain system and I’ve learnt all about 3-4-3 and 4-3-3, while knowing that there are so many variables in football, so what matters is having the right players to play at your best in a particular system.
“I wouldn’t have accepted Napoli’s offer if I hadn’t felt prepared for this experience. I’m putting myself out there. I wanted to speak here today and after a 23-year career, I know how you face up to these situations. I’m here to bring calmness to the group and to the people of Naples who hold me in such high regard. I’d like to repay them by showing how committed I am.
“I’d like to ask the fans to get behind us for the whole 95 minutes tomorrow. I have no doubt that this will happen because our supporters know how important this is, particularly during difficult times. I’m making this little plea and I’m sure we’ll have all the incredible fans at the Maradona right behind us.”
Are key players still out tomorrow?
“I don’t want to talk about an injury crisis anymore. I’ve changed in that regard as well. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had six or seven players fewer than in the past, but that’s not a useful thing to say now. I have to think that the players at my disposal are fired up to give their all and, I’ll say so again, with the help of our fans.
“I’d like the team to show its spirit once again. The Torino match really stuck in my throat. I probably made mistakes too. I shouldn’t have got myself sent off because the players needed me closeby.
“I made a mistake and I told the squad I don’t want them to react to provocation anymore. We can’t finish games with ten men anymore. We’re Napoli and we’re here to play football, not boxing. That’s enough mistakes from overexcitement. We need to channel our excitement into the game while keeping to the rules.
“I’m also making a plea to the referees. Talented players need to be protected. This goes for our players and players of other teams. We must never overreact, but it’s also only fair to guarantee players won’t be overly targeted.”