Walter Mazzarri surprised everyone by taking over as manager of Napoli on Tuesday, after Rudi Garcia had a terrible start to the Italian winners’ Serie A title defence.
After taking over as Italy coach from Luciano Spalletti, Garcia only stayed at Napoli for five months. He failed to inspire a team that had kept almost all of its stars from last season’s Scudetto win, which was the first since 1990.
Napoli is in fourth place in the league, 10 points behind league leaders Inter Milan. They have been in a lot of trouble for weeks since May’s historic title win started to look like a one-time thing.
Garcia, 59, was fired after Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Empoli, which was met with a lot of boos and whistles from fans, who are no longer happy about being crowned Italian winners.
Reports that he had been fired came out almost right away after Napoli’s fourth loss at home in all competitions this season.
Mazzarri’s return to Napoli after a 10-year absence was first announced by the club’s owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis. The deal is said to last until the end of the current season.
After the club announced Garcia’s firing, the movie mogul only wrote “welcome back Walter!” on X, which used to be called Twitter.
It was clear that that performance in Naples, Italy, in the heavy rain made De Laurentiis and hurt star striker Victor Osimhen very angry.
While some fans blame De Laurentiis, it was his choice to replace Spalletti with a man whose reputation has dropped a lot since he was fired by Roma in early 2016.
Garcia won Ligue 1 with Lille in 2011. He was fired from his job at Al Nassr in April, not long after the Saudi Arabian club paid tens of millions of dollars to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.
In 2018, he led Marseille to the final of the Europa League but lost. Two years later, he led Lyon to the semifinals of the Champions League.
Fans are angry
De Laurentiis has had a bad relationship with Napoli fans for a long time, especially with the die-hard fans who were in open revolt for most of last season because of high ticket prices and rules against drums, flags, and banners.
The 74-year-old also owns Bari, and fans begged him to sell his other clubs and play full-time for the second-tier team before the historic season began.
Mazzarri will be under even more pressure because of dissatisfaction with the team’s play and the ownership. In his first four years, he helped bring southern Italy’s biggest club back to the top levels of Italian football.
The 62-year-old led Napoli to the Italian Cup in 2012. They beat league winners Juventus in the final to win their first title in more than 20 years.
A exciting team with Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsík, and Edinson Cavani in attack helped them finish second in Italy’s top league before he left in May 2013.
Soon after, Mazzarri took over at Inter Milan, but he was fired in November of that year. Since then, his career has gone downhill, with lacklustre stints at Watford, Torino, and Cagliari, which makes him an odd choice over Igor Tudor.
Tudor was a defender for Croatia and won two Serie A titles with Juventus as a player. He led Marseille to third place in Ligue 1 last season but left the struggling club “for professional and personal reasons.”
Tudor also did a great job at Verona the previous season, when he took over from the fired Eusebio Di Francesco and led them to ninth place.