UEFA Europa League


Gennaro Gattuso has stressed how happy he is with his team, offering a frank assessment of their strengths and areas for improvement, ahead of the Europa League clash with Rijeka.

“I'm proud to coach Napoli because I have a strong, close-knit team,” the boss said at his pre-match press conference.

“The lads just have to focus on their football. We're very privileged and lucky because we have a wonderful job. Anyone who looks for excuses doesn't share my mentality. I have huge motivation and desire – and I see the same motivation in my players.

“The team are following me and their potential is huge. I'm happy with the effort and commitment they're showing. I like the football we're playing and I know we must improve, but I'm pleased with what the lads are doing. If there are people who think we should win every game, I can't do anything about that.

“I've read and heard lots of things that just aren't true. There was no argument with the players. I maintain an open dialogue with everyone. I can see they really care about the club and feel a sense of belonging. All I said was I want to see a bit more grit and determination because you can't expect to play well for the entire 90 minutes. Sometimes you need to don your helmet and get stuck in.

“I've said and I repeat that it's my responsibility. The lads know I'm with them and they know what I want from them: we need determination and a battling spirit if we want to improve our mentality. It's not enough to be good technically – you need to be able to sense danger in key moments of the game.

“We're having lots of the ball at the moment but our final ball is letting us down. Against AC Milan I saw situations where it was four against two and we messed up the pass. It's not a problem with the quality in our play, just a lack of precision, and sadly it's happening too frequently at the moment.
“We've messed up the first half a few times. We didn't turn up at the start of the game on Sunday, then afterwards, we got back into it thanks to our quality. As I said, technically this team is superb; we just have to show a bit more character and fight at all times.”

(Photo Getty Images)