Has this season been a failure for Ancelotti and Napoli?

19 April at 21:22
On 22nd April 2018, Koulibaly rose the highest from a Callejon corner to emphatically head home in the  89th minute and give his side a 1 – 0 win at the Juventus Stadium.

 
It felt like a significate goal in the title race, a victory moved Napoli just one point behind Juve, who had to travel to Milan to take on fierce rivals Inter the following week.
 
Anything other than a win for the Old Lady would put the title back in Napoli’s hands, meaning there was a real possibility that the team from Naples might win their first Scudetto for 20 years.
 
 Of course, against Inter, Higuaín and Juventus would have their own last-minute drama in 3 – 2 at San Siro. The Bianconerihad trailed 2 – 1 going into the final 5 minutes but a Skriniar own goal and late late Higuaín header gave them all three points in a game that really burst the Napoli resistance.
 
The hero the week prior, Koulibaly, turn to villain and was given his marching orders in a 3 – 0 defeat to Fiorentina the following day and the title race was over.
 
Napoli would go one to achieve an amazing 91 points, 4 behind the winners Juve, and the highest of any 2nd place Serie A side ever.
 
A year on from then a few things have changed, Maurizio Sarri and playmaker Jorginho left for Chelsea to be replaced by 3-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti and of course Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived in Turin but one thing remains the same, Napoli remains Juve’s closest challenger.
 
Although this year the gap is now 17 points. Yes, even against this Juventus side that has stuttered through the league all season without ever reaching top gear again failed to win Europe’s premier club competition, losing to Ajax in a tie they were expected to win.
 
The change from the possession-based football of Sarri to the more pragmatic style of Ancelotti was bound to have some effect on the team's performances, who to be fair, at times have looked excellent this season. There have been positives, the rotation policy of Ancelotti has also seen some of last year’s fringe players like Zielinski and Milik come to life and new signing Fabin Ruiz has slotted into the midfield excellently.
 
However, the team's failure to reach the Coppa Italia final, the early elimination from the Champions and tepid defeat to Arsenal, who have not won away in the league his calendar year, in the Europa league can’t go unnoticed.
 
However the grass is not always greener, Sarri has had problems of his own after leaving Naples, while his Chelsea side are into the last 4 of the Europa League they are by no means certain to make the Champions League next year, currently sitting in 5th with the same amount of points as 4th place Arsenal having played a game more.
 
Some Chelsea fans have also not warmed to Sarri possession-based football, with chants of ‘F*uck Sarriball’ being sung from various corners of Stamford Bridge at times this season as well as sarcastic applause after the manager makes the same, repetitive substitutions over and over again like clockwork.
 
Ancelotti must be given another year in charge until judgement is cast. Had Sarri stayed this season there was no guarantee that he could have taken take that squad any further than he did last year. It was evident that the team was better than the sum of its parts and for that team to finish with 91 points again it would have taken something very special.
 
While this year has been a disappointment for Neapolitans, there are positives to take and before judgement is cast they must wait till next year to see the true side of Ancelotti’s Napoli.
 

(@LMiller2411)
 

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