Rafa Benitez said criticism of Napoli is “exaggerated” ahead of Verona, but the club will grow “with or without me.”



It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

Rafa Benitez said criticism of Napoli is “exaggerated” ahead of Verona, but the club will grow “with or without me.”

It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“I think that after three consecutive victories, a draw away to Inter and a defeat in the Europa League on a synthetic pitch, it is exaggerated to say we are not on the right track,” began the Coach in his Press conference.

Napoli saw the team bus physically attacked by their own fans when driving away from the 2-0 Europa League loss to Young Boys in Switzerland on Thursday.

Newspapers today suggest Benitez has been given an ultimatum to win his next three games or face the sack.

“I am here to create something different. I want to win games and create a winning mentality and structure that can last, not just once every 25 years.

“I have confidence that this team has a lot of quality and will soon return to winning ways, controlling the game the way they always have done. I often speak to Aurelio De Laurentiis and asked if he wanted to come to the Castelvolturno training ground.”

Benitez was criticised by the Young Boys Coach Uli Forte, who joked he was “very happy” to see stars benched in their Europa League game.

“Someone at UEFA told me I am the Coach with the most Europa League games. I rotate the squad because I am convinced it is the best method for us to go all the way. We want to make the most of the squad and not just a specific team.

“The players in Berne are of a very high level and we had the match under control in the first half. If Mertens had scored on that counter, everything would’ve changed. We conceded a goal, but we lacked the calm to recover and win.

“The fans have no doubt over my attachment to this city. They know I want to win for them. What happened in Berne was very serious and senseless for a team like ours. We work hard for Napoli and I am sure the fans know that. I was upset and our fans know that protest was not positive.

“We all want to win every game, but I cannot see the trip to Young Boys as the most decisive of the season. I do what I can to make Napoli great on the international scene. If the game with Young Boys is a decisive one… then I must be the one who is wrong.

“The infrastructure must be improved not for me, but for Napoli. Everything I do will remain here for any other Coach. The growth of the club can therefore occur with or without me.”

It is nonetheless crunch time for Benitez against Hellas Verona on Sunday, especially as they are equal on 11 points.

“The next three matches will be very difficult and everyone wants to give their all against us. We have faith in our side. I see other teams play and see many defects. Our team is not at the level it had last season because something happened that we haven’t yet digested, but we are getting there. Last year the team stepped on to the field with more character and confidence.”

Benitez was referring to their Champions League preliminary round exit to Athletic Bilbao.

“Other teams do not defend better than we do. Perhaps they are more aggressive and intense, but we mustn’t change our tactics to be more defensive. If we want to defend, then we can finish fourth or fifth, but if we want to aim higher then we need to be more positive. I prefer to win games, but I want to do it playing good football.”

Napoli squad for Verona: Rafael, Andujar, Colombo, Maggio, Mesto, Ghoulam, Henrique, Albiol, Koulibaly, Jorginho, Inler, David Lopez, Radosevic, De Guzman, Mertens, Callejon, Insigne, Michu, Hamsik, Duvan Zapata, Higuain

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