It’s often said that when something goes wrong, the first to get the blame is the Coach. A run of bad results will often see a boss sacked, tactics pored over and substitutions questioned. But what can you do if half your team is injured? Up to now, Napoli and Sassuolo are evidence that many things in football are outside of the Coach’s control.
Having sold Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus in the summer, Napoli nonetheless appeared to be picking up where they left off. Despite some doubts over his signing, Arkadiusz Milik hit seven goals in his first nine games for the club as the Partenopei won six of their first nine games before the first international break of the season.
When these two sides meet on Monday evening, it will be a reminder of the innate fragility of football. You could have the best players in the world, but it won’t help much if you can’t put a fit squad on the park.
Manolo Gabbiadini hasn’t been able to fill the void left by Milik – and has had injury problems of his own – blunting the Vesuviani in attack. Sarri has been keen to point to the continued excellence of the build-up play, but there’s no-one to finish the moves off. That’s something the Coach can hardly be blamed for, yet it’ll still be his head on the chopping block if things don’t improve.
Last season, Maurizio Sarri and Eusebio Di Francesco were the darlings of calcio. The former took Napoli to second place, having painstakingly worked his way up from the lower divisions. Di Francesco, meanwhile, led the Neroverdi to the Europa League and was linked with the Milan job before Vincenzo Montella’s appointment.
Having beaten Athletic Club 3-0 in their first Europa League group stage match, the Neroverdi failed to win another game in the group and were eliminated. With a fit squad, we could be talking about the continuation of a fairytale, instead Sassuolo haven’t won since beating Crotone on October 16.
Just a few months later, the sheen has somewhat come off the reputations of both men. The Partenopei are already nine points behind Juventus, while Sassuolo are languishing in 16th. Ordinarily that would lead to questions over their futures, but both can point to mitigating circumstances.
Top of their Champions League group and challenging in Serie A, everything appeared to be rosy until Milik ruptured his cruciate ligament on Poland duty. Since then Sarri’s side have slid down the table, and Champions League qualification will be decided on the last day – something which hasn’t served Napoli well his澳门赌城torically.
For Sarri and Di Francesco, the winter break can’t come quickly enough, as two of last season’s best sides now resemb博狗娱乐le the walking wounded.
Things have been even worse for Sassuolo. Star man Domenico Berardi has been out since August, with Tim Letschert, Alfred Duncan, Simone Missiroli, Matteo Politano and Stefano Sensi all missing at various points. “Unfortunately at the moment our usual formation, 4-3-3, isn’t feasible with the guys we have available,” Di Francesco lamented in November. For a small club with a thin squad, th365bet平台娱乐e injury crisis has been fatal.