Spalletti in McEnroe version, constantly looking for opponents

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The coach is inexplicably agitated, always controversial (from last year to the turnover, to the squad), in sharp contrast with the results of Napoli and therefore of his work

1981 Archive Image / Sport / Tennis / John McEnroe / Photo Imago / Image

Luciano Spalletti is more John McEnroe than José Mourinho. It is more “you cannot be serious” than “I like the noise of enemies”. He seems to be constantly on the lookout for opponents, as if he needs them. In this he terribly resembles the genius of the racket that delighted the public between the 70s and 80s. But he was known by everyone – even by those who didn’t follow him – for his scenes on the court. Mac seemed like he physically and mentally needed someone to fight with. Maybe it helped him not to think too much about himself and the game. McEnroe played several games at the same time, the simplest was the one against the gentleman who stood on the other side of the net with a racket in hand.

Spalletti, in this Neapolitan start of the season, looks terribly like him. The Romanists, those who do not love him, had warned us. “You will see, wait and see”. And now they would laugh if they didn’t have to think about Udinese, Ludogorets and the August championship which is always the most illusory. What is difficult to understand is the genesis of the nervousness of the Tuscan coach. Who is currently first in Serie A, is fresh from the overwhelming victory against Liverpool and can count on a squad that we can define as important.

Yet Spalletti is fighting against opponents who are not always visible. It is evident that he has not digested last year’s objection, more generally the negative connotation that marked the season that ended with third place. Napoli returned to the Champions League after two years of absence, they played a championship well above expectations, they fought for the first place until a few days to the end. Yet it has become the season of the lost championship complete with a dispute with stones and eggs. And, it should not be forgotten, at the time Luciano certainly did not feel protected by the company that left him at the mercy of the waves (there was also the post-Empoli retirement first announced then retracted).

Spalletti talks about it as soon as he can. He also did it in the conference after Liverpool when he said: “Such an evening was possible thanks to the third place last year”. What you have minimized he did not say literally but the meaning was that. On this point we have expressed ourselves several times, in our opinion Spalletti is right. But it is not clear why he returns with this insistence.

As well as returns to the criticisms that followed in Naples-Barcelona 2-4. He has already talked about it twice. In the Dazn interview with Diletta Leotta when he said he liked that game more than the first leg when Napoli drew 1-1 at the Camp Nou. On Friday at the conference he talked about it again (without a specific question, however) to reiterate that that game was played with the same playing principles adopted against Liverpool. Only that with Barcelona he lost and was massacred, with Liverpool he won and was praised. Which seems to us a disconcerting banality. Without result, sport would not exist. And frankly, we have a hard time comparing the two games. There he felt a sense of helplessness of Napoli who found it hard to get the ball out of their area. With Liverpool, Napoli dominated. And, we add, it was a historic evening for both the club and Spalletti: both took home one of the most important victories in their history. Why not enjoy it?

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The other theme is the value of the rose. Before Lazio in the conference he declared: “Do you want me to give you a sketch of who has arrived and who has left?” implying a weakening of the workforce. The paradox is that Spalletti ended up expressing himself as most of the fans who this summer criticized both him and De Laurentiis. Now the fans have changed their minds, he seems not to. He probably he is a firefighter. He knows that difficult times will come. Certainly no one asked him for the championship even if, it must be said, not even last year he was requested and then he went as he did. On Friday, before Spezia-Napoli, he defined fourth place as a prestigious goal. By insisting in fact on the concept of the weakening of the workforce.

And then the historically earthly turn over argument of all the criticisms. Spalletti today stated that this only happens in Naples and among the critics for the choices he spontaneously included Aurelio De Laurentiis who obviously did not like the training choices of Naples-Lecce. We don’t think it happens only in Naples. It certainly has always happened here. Benitez made him a martyr. Sarri was also blessed because the same players always played with him. But frankly someone like Spalletti, who has always been in football and has been coaching for thirty years, shouldn’t be surprised by the controversy over the team. It is astonishing that the sea is wet.

We note that after that game the news of a patrol phone call from De Laurentiis to De Zerbi circulated. As well as the exemption of Tedesco in Leipzig did not go unnoticed. But let’s be serious: today to question Spalletti is frankly lunar. De Laurentiis has many defects but, net of some clamorous errors, he is light years away from the Zamparini management. Today Spalletti is the most praised coach in Serie A (and beyond). Deservedly, we add.

Maybe Spalletti is like McEnroe, he behaves like this because he performs better. To us it seems a useless waste of energy nor do we think that she is skilled at playing games like Mourinho (the famous mind games). What is there for all to see is that Napoli are strong and going strong. Spalletti, as always, is doing an important job: on the group and on individuals. The brisk climate is not necessarily a bad thing. Animosity can make you perform better. But we ask ourselves: if this is the climate, today that we sail with the wind in the sails, what will happen when the sea becomes rough and Napoli will experience difficult moments? For now the team runs which is a pleasure and the company is silent. Yes, at the end of the year Spalletti should leave (unless Napoli exercise an option for the third year) but there is an entire season to live. It seems strange to us to have reached these levels of tension already in early September. At this rate, it risks becoming tiring to get to May. Unless she’s like McEnroe, he’s been doing that for his entire career. And he is not in the least burdened. Indeed, he could not have lived otherwise.


The article is in Italian

Tags: Spalletti McEnroe version constantly opponents

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