Francesco Calzona apologised to Napoli fans after their defeat to Empoli effectively ended Champions League ambitions. ‘The attitude of players is inconceivable.’

Alberto Cerri opened the scoring early with a free header at the back post, his first in Serie A for three years, and even with plenty of possession, Napoli never looked like testing goalkeeper Elia Caprile.

If anything, Empoli should’ve had another when Niccolò Cambiaghi thumped the upright clear on goal in the first half.

“The approach to the game was ferocious from Empoli, whereas we were sluggish from the start. We were timid and this is inconceivable, but the responsibility has to be mine, because evidently I was not able to express to them my desire to go as far as possible,” Calzona told DAZN.

The coach had said before kick-off at the Stadio Castellani that he believed they were still in the race for a Champions League spot now that Serie A were handed five qualifying places.

However, that hope surely has gone now after an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to relegation strugglers Empoli, a side that had lost five of its previous six games without scoring a single goal.

“Clearly, if we don’t win games and even lose them, it is difficult to think about reaching this target. We must try in every way to honour the jersey, to give more and above all to start stronger.

“There is some disconcerting data, we are the team that scored the fewest goals in the opening 15 minutes. We didn’t have the right attitude, Empoli did, and they deservedly won the game.”

Calzona bemused by attitude

When the players are so sluggish and always second to every ball from the start, it cannot be a fitness issues, it can only be psychological.

“It was a wasted opportunity. It’s true we are too sluggish and lazy, both on and off the ball. This lack of determination to win the ball back is something we’ve had since I arrived. It must be my fault, as I was unable to express the importance of pressing high.

“If we dominated possession in the second half and didn’t get a shot on goal, that means we are predictable, which again is unthinkable considering the quality in this team. I have to take responsibility.”

Calzona is the third coach of the campaign after Rudi Garcia and Walter Mazzarri suffered many of the same problems, a complete 360 from Luciano Spalletti’s side.

“Clearly, Napoli had notorious problems this season. I honestly did not expect to find the situation like this. Playing every three days, we managed to hide some of the issues, but this team has got to do more, we owe it to the city, to the club that pays our wages.

“Since I have been here, the fault is only mine and the players, because the club supports us, the fans follow us everywhere in numbers, we have everything it takes to do well and we’re not doing it. This is enormously disappointing.”

Calzona was asked if he will try to work on the psychology of the players or their tactics in training this week?

“We have to work on the pride that we show on the pitch. We’re doing so much work on tactics, but if we don’t realise how much goes beyond tactics, like the desire to win, the determination to track back and run hard, those are the things that matter more right now.”

Some of the new signings who arrived after winning the Scudetto have failed to make an impact.

“The new players arrived during a cursed campaign, one of the worst at Napoli in recent years, so that cannot have helped them.”

Napoli fans protest

Napoli fans continued their protest by leaving the away section empty for the opening 15 minutes, then at the final whistle called the squad over to shout insults at them.

The ultras were asking Calzona to play the Primavera youth team in the remaining matches of the season, though even qualification for the Europa League is not yet locked down.

“I personally apologise to the Napoli fans, especially those who make so many sacrifices to follow us in away games. The protest is understandable, we have to accept it, and frankly I can only thank them for making it a relatively balanced protest,” concluded Calzona.

“We apologise to the fans for this bad end to the season.”

2 thought on “Calzona apology over ‘inconceivable’ Napoli attitude”
  1. How about Calzona admits and apologizes for his own mistakes and lets the players apologize for their attitude?

  2. This looks bad. How have things changed so drastically so quickly. As regards selling the club it could be a case of be careful what you wish for.

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