Success is, very often, highly attributable to having the confidence to succeed. When you're part of a team, the confidence of your unit starts from the top. If your leaders aren't confident, there's no way confident in the rest of the group can last for long.
For Napoli, there's not much to worry about on that front. We all know Aurelio De Laurentiis exudes confidence just by being himself. Marek Hamsik when he's on form is one of the most self-assured footballers around. But what about Rafa Benitez? Napoli's manager has certainly taken some lumps over the years, how much confidence can he display these days?
Turns out, based on an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, quite a bit.
"We're prepared [to fight for the Scudetto]," Rafa said when asked if Napoli were prepared for a title chase. "The team is good enough to compete with anyone. We are a strong team that is not afraid of anyone. [...] The team has become more competitive and increasingly has more chance of beating its rivals. Now it endorse it in the field and, as I always say, we should all aspire to [win the title]. We left the field [last season] with the idea of winning, no matter who the opponent is, and if we win [our matches] it will be easier to approach our goals."
Sage words from Rafa, who's always wanted to have his teams in the thick of championship hopes. His Liverpool teams were always competitive, and beat AC Milan for a Champions League title in dramatic fashion in 2005. His Inter side was less successful, but not for lack of effort or conviction on Rafa's part, and it's not like anyone since then has done better. He also won a Europa League with a disjointed Chelsea side in an environment made incredibly hostile for him by the fanbase.
Now he's in a place where the owner respects him, the fans support him, and his players like him. And guess what? Napoli had a club-record points haul last season, and also set a club record for goalscoring. Oh, and he lead the side to a Coppa Italia victory. That's not a bad reason for the man to be confident.
If Rafa can carry on his confidence and continue to use it to prop up his squad, there's little reason to think that Napoli can't put in a strong title push this season. Just look at what they did last year while still adjusting to how Rafa's tactics work. With a healthy Hamsik, a deeper, better squad, and fewer moments of godawful luck, this could be one hell of a fun season.