Quite a number of people have laid the blame for this season's shortcomings and failures on what's being called a "failed" summer transfer window for Napoli. That perception arises mostly from people looking for something to blame and automatically assuming that failures on the pitch means failures in the transfer window, and that means blaming sporting director Riccardo Bigon.
While there is some merit to that, the truth is rather more complicated than that. Napoli certainly did have some rough moments this summer, but they're hardly at fault for most of them. Javier Mascherano used Napoli's interest to get a contract extension at Barcelona, Maxime Gonalons waited until a deal was agreed after six months of work and flirtation to walk away, and Manchester United kept jerking Napoli around on loan terms for Marouane Fellaini until the Belgian got hurt.
There were successes, though, and generally speaking when Napoli found a player they wanted who fit their budget, Bigon and his team moved fast and worked hard to get the deal done quickly. The deals for Kalidou Koulibaly, Jonathan De Guzman, and David Lopez all went from vague rumor to done deal in a handful of days, and the only reason why Koulibaly's deal took so long to go official was that Napoli had to wait for the transfer window to actually open to announce it.
While Napoli could have done better in the market, it's virtually impossible to accurately blame Bigon for working within the restrictions he had. He didn't have as deep a budget to work with as last year and had some deadweight to trim, but he got the job done. Bigon and his team handled the setbacks they faced with aplomb and gave Rafa Benitez a solid squad to work with that's better than last year's group.
With all that in mind, Sky Italia asked Bigon if he felt his work the last few months were to blame for what's happened to Napoli this season. "I do not think that the market is a major issue. [Against Palermo] in the field [the] only [new signing] there was Koulibaly again and I think that this group has proven time and again that it can easily overcome the difficulties that Italian football can place in front of it."
Bigon then saw fit to tack on what can easily be interpreted by some as a shot across the bow at Rafa. "It is not because of the market that this group could not beat Palermo. We must recover the enthusiasm of last year and play with a free mentality. It is not easy, but I am convinced that the Coach and the players have everything to achieve this."
No matter what he may or may not feel about Rafa, Bigon seems to have faith that Napoli will turn things around, saying that Napoli's staff "are confident that the team will recover from this difficult time, being able to count on a very supportive environment that will help the guys to get out of this situation. Everyone that works here is confident. It is normal that the group has psychologically suffered some difficulties, but we have to have confidence in ourselves and in the effort of all those working for this group."
Hopefully the squad repays Bigon's faith with results. The man's done some impressive work over the last few years, and deserves a lot more credit than he generally gets. Napoli are a lot better off by having him around, even if he is sniping at Rafa every now and then.