Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti was applauded by those in attendance as he entered the press conference room at the SSCN Konami Training Centre on Saturday. He spoke to journalists ahead of the Azzurri’s match against Monza on Sunday, but much of the discussion centred around reflecting on the club’s huge achievements this year.
First up, he spoke about having dinner last night with President De Laurentiis.
“The president took me to a wonderful restaurant. The food and drinks were so good that we almost didn’t get chance to talk. What emerged from our discussions is very clear, but it’s up to the club to communicate that because I shouldn’t speak before them. Talking about the future is their domain. I just need to think about getting on with my job and closing out the season in the best way possible.”
Is your aim now to beat the club record of 91 points in a season?
“When as a team you find happiness in what you do, you’ve got to try to keep it up. It means a lot to Azzurri fans all over the world, so we need to finish this season well.
“This is a new situation. We need to try to enjoy the celebrations and joy around this historic Scudetto win while continuing to play good football. The match against Fiorentina showed that we are motivated and still want to give our best.”
At what point did you realise you were going to win the Scudetto?
“There was no exact moment. There were many. From my perspective, as soon as I arrived, I saw the verse on the shirts which read: “We have a dream in our hearts and that’s for Napoli to be champions once more.” It always inspired me to go out and win.
“That was where it all started. At the beginning, there was a lot of fear that we couldn’t do it. We built a winning mentality one step at a time, through how we trained, thought and dealt with what was going on around us. As a team, there are many things that come together along the way, but there was one goal pushing us forward and that was winning the Scudetto.
“I must say that I’ve worked with some extraordinary people, who’ve given the team and me everything we’ve needed. We have excellent staff here. On this occasion, I’d also like to thank you as journalists because you’ve helped a lot this year. After the round of applause you gave me as I entered the room, I’d like to return the favour.”
You clearly understand Napoli very well. Do you think that it’s true the other way around too?
“I’m not one to let loose during celebrations, but when you see the joy, happiness and enthusiasm in the city, it’s impossible not to join in. I’ve always stood behind the team, club, my players, and I must say that the atmosphere helped so much. The city responded by filling the stadium with love.
“The people of Naples have shown me a lot of gratitude and I’m grateful to the fans for backing the team. The happiness I feel now makes all those sleepless nights for Napoli worth it. I’ve given everything I have, and now in my own way, I’m happy too.”
What kind of game are you expecting against Monza?
“Monza have a coach with a great future, high-profile directors like Adriano Galliani and a quality team. They're difficult opponents who know what they need to do. It's hard to press them high because we risk being hit on the counter, which is something they’re good at.
“We'll have to be very careful and make smart choices in our line-up. I think it will be difficult to dominate the game tomorrow. However, we want to go out and pick up three points because we want to win them all. We’ll see if we manage to do so.”
Will you make any changes tomorrow?
“I think I'll give some space to those who’ve had less playing time. I’ll make a couple of changes and we’ll see about approaching it in that way until the end of the season. I can say that Bartosz Bereszynski will start tomorrow.
“We must try our best in these final four games because it’s the right thing to do and it’s our duty. We must set a good example. We’ve always shown great discipline. Both the team and fans deserve to enjoy a nice end to the season.”
In one sentence, how would you describe Napoli’s style of play?
“If I had to describe it, I would say that we’ve played a timeless style of football because we’ve shown qualities that transcend any period. I’ve got players too who I’d describe in that way, as timeless, because any time they are on the pitch, even if just for a few minutes, they run and fight without checking how much space they have and instead taking advantage of the moment.”
What aspect of winning this Scudetto has brought you the most satisfaction?
“I believe that what we’ve done this season is both win and nurture the squad. That outcome makes me really happy. It’s also thanks to the club because they’ve given me the chance to train young and enthusiastic players. The future looks bright and we have the opportunity to build lasting success.”