The Partenopei boss expressed his frustration after seeing his side exit the Europa League at the round of 32 stage
Gennaro Gattuso slammed Granada’s tactics after Napoli crashed out of Europe on Thursday, insisting that an Italian team “would get slaughtered in all the papers” if they played in the same way.
Granada knocked Napoli out of the Europa League after a 3-2 aggregate victory, despite losing 2-1 at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the second leg of their last-32 encounter on Thursday night.
Gattuso expressed his frustration over the Spanish side’s perceived negative approach to the game after the final whistle, accusing them of time-wasting and failing to show “respect” on the continental stage.
What was said?
“We conceded an absurd goal today, it was three against one in the box. I can’t remember any other chances for Granada. We have to be proud of what we showed,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.
“Those who represent us need to make themselves respected a bit more – if an Italian team played like Granada tonight, they would get slaughtered in all the papers. There needs to be respect, today they wasted too much time, three minutes at every opportunity.
“I’m angry not because we lost, but because there was very little play.”
How did Granada get the better of Napoli?
Granada picked up a surprise 2-0 victory in the first leg of the tie at Los Carmenes on February 18, which gave them a strong lead to defend in Naples.
Napoli gave supporters hope of a comeback when Piotr Zielinski scored a superb individual goal in the third minute of the return fixture, with the Polish midfielder firing low into the bottom corner from just outside the box after a commanding run.
However, Granada grabbed an all-important away goal 22 minutes later through Angel Montoro, who found the far corner of the net with a superb header.
Fabian Ruiz put the hosts back in front just before the hour mark with a neat finish, but Napoli ultimately failed to score the two further goals needed to progress to the round of 16.
Pressure builds on Gattuso
Gattuso’s position as Napoli head coach has come under serious scrutiny in recent months, with this latest setback likely to lead to an increase in calls for the club to make a change in the dugout amid links with Maurizio Sarri and Rafael Benitez – both of whom have managed at the Armando Maradona in the past.
The Partenopei are now destined to finish the season without a trophy and they are also in real danger of missing out on a top-four Serie A finish, but Gattuso isn’t shying away from the challenge at hand.
“Right now we need to get the players and the enthusiasm back,” he added. “The players need to be calm, it’s me that people should be bothering here.
“I’m the one who’s most responsible. Now, we have to get to work, it’ll be important for us. The Napoli shirt is a heavy weight, but we need to be calm and give that little bit extra.”