MILAN (Reuters) – Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is generally associated with courage and determination, but former famed combative midfielder says possession and patience were the keys to his team’s revival during last months.
FILE PHOTO: Football Football – Champions League – Final Round 16 – Napoli v FC Barcelona – Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy – February 25, 2020 Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane / File Photo
The 43-year-old coach of his second Serie A club is generally considered a motivator rather than a tactician, mainly because of the formidable reputation he has built up as a player.
But this perception evolves slowly as Gattuso adopts a style of football that seemed to him a different sport during his playing days.
“The first times I faced Spanish teams who played it (possession of football), it made my head,” he said after his home team’s 3-1 victory against SPAL Sunday.
“I used to go and squeeze them by myself and they would put me in the middle and pass the ball. When I finished the match, I would say that in Italy we played another sport. I used to suffer in these matches. ”
However, Gattuso – who inherited a team from Naples in disarray in December – now sees things differently.
“Football has changed in Italy and there are many teams that pass the ball well,” he said. “I now see football differently than when I played – I love that we have possession and avoid taking risks.”
Despite his new perspectives, Gattuso still places great importance on work ethics.
“You need continuity, you have to work hard during the week and the match is a consequence,” he said. “The path we have to take is the one we started this month after the lockdown.”
Napoli, who have won their last five league games and defeated Juventus in the Coppa Italia final, visited a creepy Atalanta team on Thursday, who have won their last six Serie A games and scored 21 goals.
Atalanta is also the most prolific team in Serie A with 80 goals.
Although neither team is in the title race, with Atalanta fourth and Napoli sixth, it promises to be the highlight of day 29 which will be spread over three days.
Matches begin Tuesday with the leading pair of Juventus and Lazio against away games.
Juve, four points ahead of a ninth straight title, visits Genoa while Lazio travels to Turin. Wednesday, Inter Milan’s third place will welcome Brescia.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris