No more Mr Nice Guy


The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Mi­lan

Former Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti, sacked by the club on Tues­day, was of­ten said to be too nice for his own good but that crit­i­cism can cer­tainly not be lev­elled against his re­place­ment Gen­naro Gat­tuso.

The 41-year-old, who will take charge for the first time when Napoli, sev­enth in the ta­ble, host Parma in Serie A to­day, was known for be­ing one of the tough­est play­ers of his gen­er­a­tion, a char­ac­ter­is­tic he has car­ried through to his short but colour­ful coach­ing ca­reer.

The Ital­ian word “grinta” – mean­ing grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion – is rou­tinely used to de­scribe Gat­tuso, although the man him­self in­sists there is much more to his coach­ing than that.

“We need to show de­ter­mi­na­tion, grit, but also play good qual­ity foot­ball, some­thing Napoli have done for years,” he said.

Gat­tuso’s coach­ing ad­ven­ture be­gan at Swiss first di­vi­sion side Sion in 2013 where he was sacked af­ter three months. He then joined Ital­ian Serie B side Palermo where he was fired af­ter six games.

In 2014, he tried his luck with Greek Su­per League side OFI Crete who were be­set by fi­nan­cial prob­lems and, ac­cord­ing to Gat­tuso, were “strug­gling to feed their play­ers”.

His six-month stint in­cluded an in­fa­mous ex­ple­tive-rid­den news con­fer­ence in which he banged his fist on the ta­ble re­peat­edly and said, in bro­ken English, that he ex­pected his play­ers to “play with balls” de­spite not be­ing paid.

He later gave the play­ers €30 000 eu­ros out of his own pocket be­cause they had not re­ceived their wages.

Back in Italy, he took Pisa out of the third tier be­fore be­ing ap­pointed by his former club AC Mi­lan in 2017. He took them to fifth place last sea­son, just out­side the Cham­pi­ons League places, and many ob­servers felt that he did the best job pos­si­ble with an un­bal­anced squad which had been cob­bled to­gether.

As a coach, he is of­ten bru­tally hon­est, loyal – but tough – to his play­ers, re­fuses to blame ref­er­ees and has a self-dep­re­cat­ing sense of hu­mour – a re­fresh­ing change amid the ba­nal cliches of the mod­ern game.

At Mi­lan, he was not afraid to de­scribe per­for­mances as “em­bar­rass­ing”, he would de­scribe de­feats as “burn­ing” and said once that he wanted 11 “an­gry dogs” on the pitch.

He once slapped a youth team player on the head for hold­ing up a Barcelona shirt and also al­lowed his play­ers to slap him. “I just want to make my squad happy, es­pe­cially the play­ers who are an­gry with me be­cause they are on the bench,” he ex­plained.

Asked about his deal with Napoli on Wednesday, he said: “We talked very lit­tle about money. And we didn’t talk about im­age rights be­cause I’m ugly, bearded and half-grey now.”

“You make me laugh when ask­ing these ques­tions. Our jobs are tied to re­sults.” –

Pic­ture: Getty Images


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