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Calzona marks a return to Napoli's traditional recipe for success
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Dan Fitch
Francesco Calzona is the new manager at Napoli
Francesco Calzona is the new manager at Napoli

Napoli will be hoping that it will be a case of third time lucky after their latest managerial appointment. 

Since Luciano Spalletti left after securing the Scudetto last season, they have struggled to find the right fit.

Rudi Garcia and Walter Mazzarri have both been sacked and the title holders have now turned to Slovakia manager Francesco Calzona to turn things around. 

Ahead of the first leg of Napoli's Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona, we examine what has gone wrong at the club and if it is repairable. 

Disastrous defence

Napoli were back at the top of Italian football last season as they won their first Serie A title in 33 years.

But the defence of their Scudetto has been disastrous, starting in the summer when their inspirational coach Spalletti left and defensive rock Minjae Kim was sold to Bayern Munich.  

Garcia took over the reins and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has admitted that the appointment was a mistake. 

He said: "I should've sacked Garcia after his first day.

"Because someone who arrives and says, 'I don't know Napoli, I've never seen a match'. I should have understood at that moment."

Garcia's direct style of play was a world apart from the stylish methods employed by Spalletti. 

The French manager only lasted 16 games in the job but Napoli fared even worse under his replacement Mazzarri. 

A former head coach at the club, the 62-year-old won only six of his 17 matches in charge before being dismissed this week. 

Calzona in the fold

After the tactical confusion of Mazzarri's brief reign, caretaker coach Calzona represents a return to tried and trusted methods. 

The 55-year-old has had a previous spell at Napoli as an assistant manager to Maurizio Sarri and also worked under Spalletti. 

In his pre-match press conference ahead of the home game against Barcelona, Calzona outlined his intentions. 

He said: "We start from today, press the reset button on everything, start a new journey.

"I found a team that was immediately at my disposal. We don't need many words, we need action right now, so got straight to work.

"We do not have much time, so I told the players we have no more excuses, we must improve our position at this moment."

Ninth in Serie A, Napoli are currently nine points behind both fourth-place Atalanta and Bologna in fifth. 

As it stands, Italy are one of two nations where a top-five finish will see clubs qualify for next season's Champions League and Napoli can strengthen that position by getting past Barcelona. 

Challenging objectives

Napoli need Victor Osimhen to get back to his best
Napoli need Victor Osimhen to get back to his best

As bad as Napoli's season has been so far, Calzona is still aiming high.

He said: "Aurelio De Laurentiis is unhappy with the current situation. 

"He has asked me to believe in our objective, which is to move forward in the Champions League and get up to fourth in the league."

It is a tough challenge, but one that Napoli have the talent to meet. 

Getting Victor Osimhen back in top form must be a priority for Calzona, with the striker having scored only eight goals in 18 appearances due to injuries and international commitments. 

That would be a huge boost to their chances of enjoying an instant reversal in fortunes and meeting their targets.


SSC NapoliSerie AChampions League
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