When it comes to football schedules, very few can be considered difficult and decisive like the list of SSC Napoli fixtures in February.
The Partenopei begin their 28-day marathon with the first Three showdowns against Atalanta, with a top-of-the-table clash against Juventus and a double Europa League header against a strong Granada side.
In addition to these six fire trials, Napoli must also confidently cross two banana skins in Genoa and Benevento. It is safe to say that you will need to keep the spirit on yourself and present a united front to face all the trials and tribulations that lie ahead.
It shouldn’t be too difficult for a side ranked fifth in Serie A, and potentially just six points behind the leaders if they win their game in hand. So why is Gennaro Gattuso’s work at stake?
Gattuso arrived at a crunchy Napoli side in December 2019 and immediately stabilized the ship, securing Europa League football and winning a major trophy for the first time in six years.
In just over 12 months, Gattuso has returned I Partenopei to Champions League hopeful status with a glint in his eye when it comes to title talk, while also restoring the appealing style of football his public demands.
All of this while suffering from ocular myasthenia gravis, a condition that can make the victim’s eye drop or even have double vision. This disease resurfaced for the coach, having brought him all kinds of nightmares towards the end of his playing career.
Unsurprisingly, Napoli’s title hopes have waned somewhat since Gattuso’s return from myasthenia gravis, and his ability to coach or inspire easily could have dwindled during this terrible time.
Damaging defeats to European rivals Inter and Lazio, as well as shock losses to Spezia and Verona have put his future in doubt, as critics have again started to question his credentials as an elite-level manager.
And the all-too-familiar feeling of the end in sight descends in Gattuso’s reign. Rumors of Rafa Benitez’s return are growing day by day, and the manager is forced to question his future at every turn.
But there is one thing that works in Gattuso’s favor. The players are on his side.
It was evident during their recent victory over Parma that the team stood in solidarity with their leader, and they made it clear to all of their viewers, rushing to celebrate with the man on the sideline after scoring during 2-0 victory.
And they have to get up and be counted eight more times in February, if they are to see their boss keep their job beyond the end of the month.
It starts against Atalanta on Wednesday night, when Stadio Diego Armando Maradona host Coppa Italia’s semi-final first leg against Atalanta. La Dea are not a team to play with, and as their 3-0 demolition of league leaders Milan proved, they can take any team apart on any day.
But Napoli inflicted one of Atalanta’s few defeats this season, beating Gian Piero Gasperini’s men 4-1 at the same stadium in October. That victory came shortly after distributing a 6-0 bombing in Genoa and announcing himself as title contenders.
While that form is running out of steam, it was proof enough that this team have the quality and the manager in place to achieve great things, especially in a season where all the favorites refuse to catch the bull by the horns.
A man you would support in a bull wrestling match is Gattuso, of course. He won the Coppa Italia against all odds last year – a triumph that should have made his professional status much more stable and secure than it is.
He now has the chance to make himself untouchable over the next 28 days, and Napoli could face the tantalizing prospect of entering a cup final, the next round of the Europa League, and in the thick of a battle in March. for the title.
The Napoli crisis talks are an overreaction – but pushing Gattuso out of the door would plunge an unusually stable team into complete collapse.