Remember when Napoli were struggling? The partenopei went fives games without a win in the league and then crashed out of the Coppa Italia semifinals at home, 1-0 to Lazio. Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis called a ritiro, or a training retreat, where the players had to stay at the Castel Volturno training grounds. Rumours abounded that coach Rafael Benitez wanted to resign and De Laurentiis refused his resignation. The season was spinning out of control and possibly the toughest assignment in the Europa League was looming with an away trip to favored Wolfsburg.
What a difference two weeks makes. Napoli's season is back on track with three consecutive wins, thumping Fiorentina at home, and both Wolfsburg and Cagliari away from the San Paolo, outscoring the opposition 11-1 in the process.
This upturn in form and a meeting between the owner and player representative Christian Maggio means the ritiro is over. Most importantly is this promise from both sides: "The President and players made an iron pact to respect their duties and honor the jersey with an aim to end the season achieving the best possible results."
Who knows if the training retreat is why things have turned around for Napoli. The dominant nature of the 3-0 win over the Viola could have sparked these excellent performances that followed. Some will be loathe to give the eccentric De Laurentiis credit, but maybe the squad needed a jolt to get them out of the doldrums.
There is no denying that Napoli's season was floundering through March and into early April now. Now with a recoverable six-point deficit to Roma and Lazio and a likely berth in the Europa League semifinals, the Partenopei look re-energized and the season is alive!