in Naples, Spalletti or the praise of abnegation

in Naples, Spalletti or the praise of abnegation

Luciano Spalletti, Napoli coach since May 2021. Salvatore Varo / PANORAMIC

Naples, future Italian champion, is on a favorable waiver against Frankfurt, in the 8th return of the Champions League this Wednesday (9 p.m.). His experienced trainer, Luciano Spalletti, is finally rewarded.

Carlo Ancelotti in the rearview mirror. After a victory for Napoli at Salernitana on January 21 (0-2), Luciano Spalletti has become the coach who has won the most matches in Serie A (276) over the last 40 years*. A figure all the crazier since he has … never lifted the Scudetto, at 64 years old. An anomaly that the Tuscan coach is preparing to repair: Naples, leader with 18 points ahead of Inter Milan, will be champions of Italy except cataclysm, and can qualify for the first time in the quarter-finals of the League champions at the expense of Eintracht Frankfurt.

In fact, it would take a feat from the Germans to turn the tide this Wednesday (9 p.m.) after being beaten at home in the first leg (0-2 on February 21) and seeing their precious French striker, Randal Kolo Muani, scoop a red card. “Let’s stay calm, very calm, alerted Spalletti after the meeting. There is still a rematch. We have to play it first. We have a good lead, but everything is back to zero.At 64, the Italian tactician knows what he’s talking about. He mopped up disappointments, scoured the lower divisions and made a detour through Russia before finally being in the spotlight.

Spalletti, the man who pushed Totti into retirement

At Spalletti, there is an “American dream” side, starting from the very bottom to reach the top. Between two consecutive rises with Empoli (1995-98), a fiasco at Sampdoria (1998-99) and miracles at Udinese (2002-2005), Spalletti, a former midfielder with a modest career, struggled, wandered . In 2005, AS Roma saw in him the man who would improve the Francesco Totti era. It will be, a little. He will also be the gravedigger.

Francesco Totti had a painful end to his career under Luciano Spalletti at AS Roma. Inside / Panoramic

After its Scudetto in 2001 and its Europa League Conference in 2022, Roma have only won three trophies: two Italian Cups (2007, 2008) and a Supercup (2007). Thank you Spalletti, think the tifosi, touched but understanding in front of his resignation in September 2009 because frustrated by the lack of means made available to him to aim higher. His return in 2016, after four years of ups and downs at the Zénith Saint-Petersburg, looks promising. But the image that will endure will be that of his deleterious relationship with the legend Totti, who is then on his 40th birthday.


Spalletti is an emotional one, a real one. The guy is super theatrical, very tactile.

Ricardo Faty, former AS Roma player under Spalletti, in the columns of So Foot.

«I ask for a little more respect“, annoys Totti, relegated to the bench, in February 2016. In the spirit of Spalletti, the Italian striker is no longer at the level, and there is no question of feeling. In April, Roma snatched a draw from Atalanta (3-3) with a goal from their eternal captain at the end of the match. “We won nine games playing without Totti. Today Totti didn’t save anything at all, it was the team that saved the game“, vituperates Spalletti in a press conference.

The Tuscan is unfiltered. “Spalletti is an affective, a real one, described former Roma player Ricardo Faty for So Foot . The guy is super theatrical, very tactile. Sometimes he has bloodshed, he will rot you, but then come and kiss you to reconcile with you.“With Totti, there will be no reconciliation. He resigned in May 2017 as “il Capitano” retired. The coach rebounds at Inter Milan, where he will reproduce a conflict with another centre-forward, Mauro Icardi. The results ? Two gloomy places of 4th in Serie A. Spalletti stagnates.

Napoli, the late peak of his career

It is therefore a blow that Naples managed by trusting him, at the end of spring 2021. “The first thing he told us was that he wanted to find the problem of this team because according to him it is not normal that we do not win. It unlocked something mentally“, shared the historic defender Kalidou Koulibaly at the microphone of DAZN in November 2021.

Luciano Spalletti giving instructions in front of his player in Naples, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. CIRO DE LUCA / PANORAMIC

In Naples, Spalletti will raise, in a few weeks, the first Scudetto of his career, and the first of the club since those of the Diego Maradona era (1987, 1990). Even with the Argentine genius, the Partenopei never reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League. In a stadium that bears the name of Maradona, Spalletti’s stunning Naples (3.1 goals/match in C1 this season) is about to write an unprecedented page in its history Spalletti, too preventive, will surely not say it, but he will think so: it was worth the wait.

*Only Nereo Rocco (306, 1947-1977) and Giovanni Trapattoni (352, 1974-2000) have won more Serie A matches than Luciano Spalletti (282)

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