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Why Goran Pandev is full of it

Ciao, Pandycakes, and enjoy Turkey. Sorry you're so upset that no one at Napoli is crying over your move to Galatasaray.

Stuart Franklin

Good riddance to Goran Pandev.

The forward signed a deal with Galatasaray, playing under Cesare Prandelli. That's fair, of course. But upon departing, the Macedonian didn't just burn any bridges he crossed along the way. He went at them with dynamite, destroying the surrounding environment in such a manner that nothing can ever be rebuilt there again.

After his move was announced, Pandev flung some not-so-veiled barbs at Napoli, particularly when he noted that he's eager to play for a club with a winning mentality (Italy's World Cup squad says "hi", Goran). His agent made things worse, talking about fans that feel sad about Pandev's leaving (huh?) before whining about Pandev being "marginalized" under Rafa Benítez.

Let's take this moment to point out that Pandev is now 31, not exactly a spring chicken. When he joined Napoli from Inter, he'd scored just two Serie A goals the season before. The most league goals he ever scored under Walter Mazzarri was six. He scored seven last season, mostly off the bench, but he did have 17 starts. Just what was Pandev expecting?

Now Pandev is busy criticizing what's come after the arrival of Rafa. He's questioning the "dismantling" of a squad, a squad that had finished second just two seasons ago, pinning the blame on the new manager.

In some ways that's fair. Paolo Cannavaro, Valon Behrami and Morgan De Sanctis are all gone. Hugo Campagnaro, Napoli's best defender in 2012-2013, followed Mazzarri to Inter. But there's no way to blame the exit of Edinson Cavani on a managerial change. And since the departure of Cavani and his 29 goals, Napoli have brought in a slew of players, including Gonzalo Higuaín, José Callejón and Dries Mertens.

No one's saying Rafa is perfect -- the failure to qualify for Champions League certainly makes that clear. And while fans could've done with one or two more signings this season, the club has brought in plenty to compensate for those that have left.

Pandev should also realize that the 2012-2013 season was an anomaly. Napoli played just one Coppa Italia game, and brushed off the Europa League, basically throwing in the towel. With just one front to fight on, Napoli were able to take second, even with a small squad. It helped too that Milan got off to a bad start, Inter were never in the hunt, and Fiorentina stumbled in the middle of the season.

Really, what's been 'dismantled' is a group of players who thought, by virtue of their place in the 2012-2013 team, had the automatic right to a place in the current squad. Those who have gone (exempting Cavani) weren't exactly young, and they all fit well into Mazzarri's 3-5-2. When Benítez arrived, many weren't happy, and they made that unhappiness known in the dressing room.

Despite Pandev's accusations, this was a good summer for Napoli. There are few fans out there that are truly mourning the loss of the players that left. The core of the squad has been retained, and supplemented by Kalidou Koulibaly, Jonathan de Guzmán, Michu and David López. Again, it's not perfect, but this is a squad that has the talent to push for the scudetto -- even without Goran Pandev.

One more thing: Pandev's agent accused Napoli of not having a soul. He clearly wasn't watching the game against Genoa, then. A side missing its soul wouldn't have the grinta to fight back to find a last-minute winner. Clearly Zona Napoli isn't exclusive to the former Special Mister. This is a squad that's already made clear their desire to win the title.

Pandev's just upset that no one's sittingin the corner, sobbing over his departure.