Football

Rafael Benitez must deliver glory for Napoli this season

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Napoli manager Rafael Benitez must build on a promising debut campaign in the job and lead the club to Serie A glory this forthcoming season.

The Spaniard, who replaced Walter Mazzarri after he jumped ship to Inter Milan last summer, cuts a popular figure in Naples and could enhance his reputation by ending the recent spell of domestic dominance from Juventus.

His last league success came 10 years ago with La Liga outfit Valencia, and despite various other successes it is the Scudetto that he craves above all.

See also
-Chelsea win Europa League
-Napoli sign Gonzalo Higuain

Impressive debut

Benitez arrived at the club on the back of a fruitful yet turbulent time in charge of Chelsea, having led the Blues to third place in the Premier League and all the way to glory in the Europa League.

Upon taking the reins he had to deal with the departure of star striker Edinson Cavani to Ligue 1 with Paris St Germain, yet his replacement, Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid,  ensured that the Uruguayan would not be too missed over the course of the season.

Juventus waltzed to the title yet Napoli still managed to shine, and beat the champions back in March in a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens.

There was silverware as well, as Benitez claimed the Coppa Italia in a major scalp with an emphatic 3-1 battering of Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina, despite having Gokhan Inler sent off.

They missed out on second place in the final league table – that honour went to Roma – but now the 54-year-old must build on early promise and deliver the crown that will be so hard to wrestle from the firm grip of Juventus.

Signs in signings

The Spaniard has been active in the transfer window, and swooped for Swansea City striker Michu in a shock loan deal last month.

The 28-year-old hit the ground running upon his arrival from Rayo Vallecano, finding the net 22 times in his first season on Welsh shores, but his second season was disrupted by injury and ultimately led to Gary Monk to sanction his departure.

Michu’s former team-mate Jonathan de Guzman may be set to join him, with various reports emerging in recent days that the Dutchman is set to leave Villarreal for the rigours of Serie A.

Marouane Fellaini is set to end his horror spell at Manchester United, with Louis van Gaal agreeing to send the Belgian star to Napoli on a season long loan deal in a move to resurrect his faltering career.

Must deliver

With Napoli now stronger than last season, all the signs are there that Benitez can make a real assault on Serie A glory.

Juventus have moved for Alvaro Morata and Patrice Evra but may lose yet lose Arturo Vidal, whilst no signing made by Roma has done enough to generate any true excitement.

Benitez must now deliver where it matters most. Failure to do so could see him rendered as a failure.

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