Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has decided to sack coach Rudi Garcia after the French manager was appointed in the summer to replace Scudetto-winning boss Luciano Spalletti, as CBS Sports has learned. Garcia will leave the club after a disappointing beginning to the season, which included a 1-0 loss at home to Empoli on Sunday. Napoli have lost three Serie A games at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona so far this season and currently sit fourth with 21 points, 10 behind leaders Inter.
Here are the main reasons why the marriage between Napoli and Garcia didn't work out.
Former Napoli coach Spalletti was able to bring a winning mentality to the team in less than two years. In fact, under him, the Azzurri managed to win a historical title, the first one after the Diego Armando Maradona era. Spalletti dealt with some difficult situations, as the one that led key players like former captain Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Kalidou Koulibaly to leave in the same transfer window in the summer of 2022. That was the key moment that led to the title few months later as Spalletti trusted his players and created a perfect atmosphere with the new signings like defender Kim Min-Jae and winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia working with Victor Osimhen, who became the face of the team.
The pact between Spalletti and the team worked out. The team trusted the manager as never before, while the coach created in just few months what multiple managers were not able to do before. Napoli played some great football especially until the spring, but what made the difference was the atmosphere that the coach created between the team and the fanbase as well.
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After Spalletti decided to leave Napoli, De Laurentiis had to pick a new coach and decided to appoint somebody with a profile that could continue with similar tactical ideas. This is why the choice became Garcia, who was sacked few months before by Al-Nassr. Garcia seemed to be the right profile, both on and off the pitch, but things didn't go well. The French coach maintained similar tactical ideas to the ones that Spalletti had but couldn't recreate the same atmosphere in the dressing room.
One episode, in particular, showed why the coach and the dressing room were not together like before. On Sept. 24, against Bologna, Osimhen faced Garcia while he was going to the bench and told him directly that he should have tried to play with two central strikers, pointing at him with two fingers. It was a clear message to the world that the Napoli dressing room was not as solid as the past season when they won the Scudetto. The player apologized to the coach and the other players, but this was a signal that there was something wrong.
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Napoli are in the race and well positioned to qualify for the UEFA Champions League's round of 16 after losing only to Real Madrid so far at the Maradona, but they also failed to clinch the goal after drawing at home against Union Berlin last week. In the Italian league, Napoli won six games, drew three and lost three. More than the results on the pitch, Garcia paid with his job for what happened outside the pitch. During the last International break, De Laurentiis failed to convince Antonio Conte to take the job, as the Italian manager prefers to wait until the summer before accepting a new role.
Just for the fact that the news of Conte became public, it automatically undermined the position of the manager who knew he was not fully trusted. The whole environment, and the fans, had the perception that Garcia was confirmed as the coach only because Conte refused to take the job. And when this happens, it's only a matter of time before you get sacked. One month later, and after losing again in front of the home fans, it's happening.