Rudi Garcia fired by Naples, chronicle of an almost impossible mission for the last French coach in a major foreign championship

The coach who worked for Lyon and Marseille was fired on Tuesday and replaced by Walter Mazzarri, after another defeat against Empoli (0-1). He leaves Naples through the back door.

His Neapolitan idyll was demolished. Four months after his surprising appointment to the bench of the Italian champion, the Frenchman Rudi Garcia was removed from officeTuesday, November 14, two days after another defeat against the penultimate Empoli (0-1). This premature ouster seemed inevitable for the former Marseille and Lyon coach, plagued by disappointing results and difficulties in the management of his group. After just twelve games in Serie A, Napoli is in fourth place, ten points behind leaders Inter.

The deal between the reigning Italian champions and Garcia, whose appointment was largely surprising, never took place. The ex-Manceau remained on a mixed experience at Lyon (2019-2021) and ten months without brilliance at Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia), but enjoyed a good rating in Italy, inherited from a rather fruitful period at AS Roma (2013 – 2016). I am not afraid of anything”he declared during a press conference that he presented with great fanfare under the gilding of the prestigious Capodimonte Museum, on the heights of Naples.

But the 59-year-old French technician could not capitalize on the work of his predecessor Luciano Spalletti, architect of Napoli’s first title in 33 years, with a daring play. “It is always very complicated to support a successful coachlast October indicated Fabio Cannavaro, 2006 Golden Ball and former local icon, on TV Play. But I still didn’t expect so much trouble…”

Mediocre in the game, tense in the locker room

This season, Garcia’s Napoli won only twice out of seven in their Maradona stadium, where the Partenopei still achieved success last year. He did not win games against big teams (draw against Milan, defeats against Real Madrid, Lazio and Fiorentina), mistakes that were already criticized when he coached OL or OM. In the Champions League, Naples is in the spotlight (second in Group C behind Real with seven points), but a recent draw against Union Berlin (1-1), so far after a series of twelve defeats, taints the balance.

In addition to these slow, if not alarming, results, Rudi Garcia was mainly criticized for a performance that was often inadequate compared to the team that scored 77 goals in 38 games last season. “Napoli cannot find continuity, it has lost the identity that made it possible to win the Scudetto”former emblematic defender Ciro Ferrara warned in mid-October.

Above all, Garcia quickly seemed overwhelmed by his group’s management. From the start of the season, his choice to release star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia while his team was controlled by promoted Genoa (2-2) was criticized in the transalpine press. The substitution of the other jewel Victor Osimhen in similar circumstances (0-0 in Bologna) a month later earned Garcia strong rebukes from the Nigerian striker.

The disappointment of Victor Osimhen, saved by Rudi Garcia during the match in Bologna (0-0), September 24, 2023. (SERENA CAMPANINI / MAXPPP)

“He no longer has control over his dressing room”, judged the erratic former striker Antonio Cassano. In an explosive Neapolitan context, where the slightest actions are over-interpreted by the countless local media, these adventures have polluted Garcia’s short mandate. In any case, it was not necessary for his departure to be mentioned daily, even if his predecessor did not want to shout along with the pack of his opponents. “I have a lot of respect for Rudi Garcia. He has shown that he is a decent, balanced person. It was not fair to compare him from the first match with what had been done before with this team.”lamented Luciano Spalletti, now coach of Italy.

A soaped plank

Although his failure is difficult to dispute, the Frenchman was not helped by his president Aurelio De Laurentiis either. This very charismatic film producer, owner of Napoli since 2004 and often mocked tifosi due to his wait-and-see attitude in the transfer market, the team has not really strengthened. However, this registered the departure of Min-jae Kim, the cornerstone of last year’s defense, without actually replacing him. As a result, Naples has already lost three times, almost as many as last season as a whole (four defeats).

Rudi Garcia could hardly survive such a toll. After a tormented loan at Marseille and then Lyon, the French champion coach failed to get back on track with Lille in 2011, almost 60 years old he will receive them in February 2024. Due to his dismissal, there will no longer be a French coach playing for a foreign club between the five major championships. And there are only eight in Ligue 1.

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