Napoli's pre-season training camp kicks off tomorrow, and Rafa Benitez and his staff are already hard at work preparing for the upcoming Serie A season, and especially for the Champions League playoff matches that will decide if the partenopei make the group stage or not.
With so much on the line in just the next six weeks, Benitez has a lot to prepare for. He's been in these kinds of situations before and come out well, so you know he has the experience and know-how to do it, but there's still going to be some degree of nerves going on. Knowing that, Rafa took to his website and issued some hopefully-calming words to the fans:
We are already working on finalizing details and preparing everything for the start of the pre-season training next Thursday 10th July. I returned to Naples today and have already had meetings with my 'technical staff' and our technical director - Riccardo Bigon. I have been in touch on a daily basis with all of them throughout, the time that I spent with my family in Liverpool.
Our passion and commitment are identical to this time last year. We continue to grow, we look to continue improving and working, even with new infrastructure in place. I leave a couple of photos taken a few minutes ago in the new office of the coaching staff working in the multi-purpose room in which we are preparing, for the return of our players. As ever- Sempre Forza Napoli!
- Source: Rafa Benitez Web
The note about working with Bigon so closely is an interesting one; so far Napoli have made just one signing, Kalidou Koulibaly, but have at least two more that seem to be close in Michu and Lucas Leiva (with some reports that Michu will be done by the weekend). With those and supposedly more moves planned, that makes the balance of pre-season prep all the more important for Rafa and his staff.
Again, though, this is a group experienced with dealing with challenges, and there's no reason to think they can't come through in a big way. Napoli already accomplished more than they were expected to with a half-new squad and a new manager with a very different way of coaching than they'd had the year before. Now that group has had a full year to work together and is getting further reinforced with quality.
Pessimism is easy when it comes to looking at next season, especially without the guarantee of Champions League group stage football. This is a good side capable of great things, though, and their targets are set very high. If things keep on like they've been, this could be a very special season indeed in Naples.