Gennaro Gattuso warned his Napoli side to expect a gruelling test when they host Torino at the Stadio San Paolo on Saturday night as he appeared at a pre-match press conference at the Azzurri’s training ground on Friday.
“We have a battle ahead of us tomorrow so I need players that are at 100%,” sai the Azzurri coach. “Despite their league standing, Torino are one of the best teams in the league. We’re coming off the back of a very demanding game against Barcelona, so I need players that can give their all tomorrow because we’ll have to stand firm.
“Torino have a good squad with some quality, physical players. To be honest, I’m a little worried because I know we’re going to be facing a solid, competitive team. I’ll have a look in the final training session today and then I’ll decide who to play.”
How is Dries Mertens?
“We’ll assess him today. He’s trying to recover, but I’ve got [Arek] Milik in that position too and he’s very good at linking the team together and attacking the space. I don’t have a problem in that position.”
How are Faouzi Ghoulam and Kalidou Koulibaly?
“Ghoulam is showing good consistency in training. Koulibaly has been training outside in recent days and we hope to have him back at 100% soon.”
What did you learn from the Barcelona game?
“I believe that you do the preparation for matches during the week. We prepared the game well and we need to build on the good things we did, as well as learning from the slump we had in the first month after I took over.
“We need to learn from it all because it’s important that we don’t forget that we were losing games and didn’t look to be there mentally or in terms of spirit. We’re a new team now and I hope the team has learned that it needs to give more and more to achieve results.
“It’s been tough for the lads. I know they have great technical ability, but the most important thing is that everyone acts as a team. I don’t just want a group of players, I want a group of men who help each other, who help me and who feel comfortable to say things face to face, in the good times and the bad.”
How much would you like to be the Napoli coach from next summer?
“I’ve signed a six-month deal with an option for 2021, but right now the issue isn’t my contract – my priority is working hard and achieving objectives. I speak to the president every day. We’ll talk about everything else at the end of the season. I feel great in Naples – there are great professionals and great people here. I love places that stand up when the going gets tough.
“It’s been massive for me to work in Naples. I’ve made my Champions League debut, I’ve met people that have really help me and I’ve discovered a wonderful city. That matters. I live day by day and I prefer to let the results do the talking.”
Do you think the team has got that confidence that had been lacking now?
“I think we’ve made big progress, but we can’t think that we’re cured and that everything is rosy. So far we’ve been somewhere between doing well and doing badly. I want some consistency but that will take time and hard work.
“This is a good side with top players. It would cost millions and millions of Euros to sign better ones. But we need to be united and not think for ourselves but for each other.
“From that respect, the Torino game is the perfect opportunity for us to show whether we’re on the road to recovery or not and how far we’ve really come. We need to produce a great performance tomorrow both technically and in terms of our character. It will show us where we’re at physically and mentally.”
(Photo Getty Images)