Napoli sacked manager Rudi Garcia on Tuesday, and it officially replaced the Frenchman with Italian Walter Mazzarri. Mazzarri was the manager of Napoli from the 2009/10 season to 2012/13. He led Napoli to its best league finish in over 20 years when Napoli finished second that season in Serie A. He steps in for Rudi Garcia, who has been under fire for Napoli’s performances this season.
Rudi Garcia only lasted three months with Napoli. He replaced Luciano Spalletti after the Italian parted ways with the club. Last season, Spalletti led Napoli to the club’s first Scudetto since Diego Maradona represented the club in 1989/90. Despite retaining most of the stars of that title-winning side, Napoli has not been able to repeat the success Spalletti delivered.
Currently, the Italian side is fourth in Serie A. After 12 games, Napoli has six wins, three draws and three losses. Most recently, a loss at home against relegation candidate Empoli spelled the end for Garcia. Napoli is 10 points adrift of league-leading Inter Milan. In the UEFA Champions League, the club has seven points after four games. Therefore, it is on the brink of reaching the knockout stages for a second straight season. Still, the league performances have not been strong enough for the new standard at Napoli.
The performances under Garcia were far too inconsistent for club president Aurelio de Laurentiis. Also, de Laurentiis was not overly fond of Garcia to begin with. After hiring the Frenchman, the club president admitted that he was not at the top of the list. However, the club rolled with Garcia, which may have set it behind the pace in Italy.
Napoli turning to a familiar face in Walter Mazzarri
Walter Mazzarri has had a journeyman career as a manager. Yet, the major focus of his clubs is in Italy. As stated, his first stint with Napoli started in October of the 2009/10 season. At the time, Napoli was in 14th. Immediately after hiring Mazzarri, Napoli went on an unbeaten run in the league for 15 games. Seven of those games were draws, and eight were wins. Yet, Napoli conceded far fewer goals under Mazzarri. In the end, Napoli finished sixth in that first season. Then, over the next three years, Napoli had finishes of third, fifth and second in Mazzarri’s last campaign.
There were several other names Napoli was considering to replace Garcia in the current campaign. For example, rumors suggested Fabio Cannavaro and Igor Tudor. For Napoli, Mazzarri was the safest choice given his success managing in Serie A with Napoli in the past.
After Napoli, though, Mazzarri did not succeed with Inter Milan, Torino or Cagliari. With Cagliari, Mazzarri signed a three-year contract early in the 2021/22 season. However, Cagliari found itself in a relegation battle, and the club sacked Mazzarri in May of that campaign.
A gauntlet to start his second stint
Napoli sacked Garcia right before a brutal spell of games both domestically and in Europe. That starts in late November on the road against Atalanta, the club directly beneath Napoli in the table. After that, Napoli travels to Spain to face Real Madrid in matchday five of the UEFA Champions League. The two league games following the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu are home to Inter Milan and at Juventus. Napoli then rounds out its Champions League group stage against Braga at home.
Mazzarri will instantly be under the microscope, and this may all happen without Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has no expected return date.
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