To the surprise of exactly no one, the appeal filed by Napoli with the Lega Serie A disciplinary committee over the suspension handed down to Rafa Benitez for his poor post-match behavior after Napoli drew against Parma last weekend was rejected. That means that on Monday, the Spaniard will not be on the touchline, and won't be leading his team in an absolute must-win match.
With that loss comes a fascinating opportunity: Fabio Pecchia will be give the chance to manage his first Serie A match.
Pecchia has been the assistant manager to Benitez since Rafa arrived in Naples, helping bring experience both in Italian football and Naples to the Spaniard's staff. The 41 year old played 152 matches for Napoli in Serie A over two spells during his journeyman's career in football, with the winger scoring 21 goals in the process.
Now Pecchia is a coach, and is in his first high-profile coaching job since stepping off the pitch for the last time as a player. His first job, with Gubbio, lasted all of three months before a poor run of results cost him his job. In the season before he joined Rafa's staff, however, he guided Latina to promotion from the third division -- then Serie C1, now Lega Pro -- up to Serie B before being offered the chance to assist Benitez.
This is a good opportunity for Pecchia to show what he's capable of, and one that you should expect him to run with. The coach is generally well-regarded, and if Napoli out-perform their recent and awful-to-watch slump, he could get some looks for open manager jobs in Serie B, or even at clubs in the lower reaches of Serie A.
It helps that Napoli are facing a side that's already earned relegation in Cesena, but as Napoli found out a week ago, that doesn't mean they'll go down quietly. Pecchia's going to have to lead Napoli well to assure a win, and if his playing career is any indication, he's working his tail off to do just that.