Mazzarri out then back in as Napoli summit meeting brings peace

Serie A’s managerial 'merry-go-round' is in fact more like a dilapidated rollercoaster at a disreputable theme park - nobody knows when or how the ride will end...

Take Walter Mazzarri – and it seemed for a while that Juventus would; The Napoli coach was happily taking the plaudits on Monday morning for a season which had ended with a third place finish and a return to the Champions League, when he was informed that his services were no longer required.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis is not a man to be messed with and despite Mazzarri’s success on the pitch the movie mogul was less than impressed with his coach’s refusal to buy into the long-term plans for the club.

Mazzarri must have felt he was on pretty solid ground when he informed the press that he would be considering his options come the end of the season, only for the rug to be yanked from under his feet when that decision was taken for him.

“You’re sacked,” was probably the wording of the notice from the De Laurentiis office – a notice coming in the form of a telegram, no less, as the pair had not spoken in the previous two months, with the president even blanking Mazzarri during the celebrations for the club’s return to Europe’s elite cup competition for the first time in 21 years.

There were murmurs on Sunday evening that something was amiss when, after the draw at Juventus, Mazzarri gave a touching speech to the players during which he praised their professionalism and hinted he may not be around to enjoy such good days in the future.


For a short time Mazzarri was left pondering his future

Some took it has another round of ‘call my bluff’ with the big boss, but when De Laurentiis cancelled an appearance at a Lega Calcio meeting on Monday morning the alarm bells started ringing around the Bay of Naples.

Word soon spread that recent Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasperini was to take over from next season and all that remained was to thrash out the termination of the remaining two years on Mazzarri’s contract worth €6 million.

An afternoon meeting was hastily arranged in Rome between two hard-headed individuals, with Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon acting as referee, peace-maker and soother of dented egos.

They certainly made up for lost time on the verbal side of things, emerging sometime around 9pm to inform an incredulous press and public that peace had actually broken out and rather than finding himself without a club Mazzarri had in fact signed a new five-year contract.

The pair then jumped on the train back to Naples as if the extraordinary events of the day had never happened - and no doubt the agreement was all sealed in true Neapolitan fashion with a big hug and a bit of back slapping - maybe a little too vigorously on the relieved Mazzarri’s part.

Having committed himself to remaining within the UEFA financial fair-play regulations, De Laurentiis also seems to have bent to his coach’s demand for reinforcements for next season’s Champions League campaign, an adventure Napoli will have to juggle with staying in Italy’s- no small task given the likes of AS Roma and Juventus can only improve.

First to arrive will be Gokhan Inler, who it had seemed was close joining Bayer Leverkusen with Napoli seeming to cool their interest in Udinese midfielder for a spell. Also on the radar are River Plate striker Erik Lamela and Fiorentina winger Mario Santana, who will shortly be a free agent.

But perhaps most pressing will be the need to prevent AC Milan from whisking Marek Hamsik away, and this could have been another factor in the turnaround of the last 48 hours. The midfielder has always been fulsome in his praise of Mazzarri and will only have been encourage to see his boss sticking with the club.

However, as we are all aware, contracts mean little if anything in football, and all it would take is for Antonio Conte to get off to a bad start at Juventus for the first stirrings of another upheaval to begin rumbling in the shadow of Vesuvius.

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