Disgusted Napoli fans are telling the owner, players and manager how angry they are

Usually at this time of year, the talk in Naples is of catching Juventus; of securing a top-three spot; of finishing above Roma and Lazio; and certainly of being the top team in the south.

But this season, everything is different. Everywhere you go, people are anxious. The whispers have turned to groans.

The one topic on their lips is the demise of their football club. They already know Napoli are not good enough to seriously compete for the Serie A title this season. Every corner of the city is aware that their club has spectacularly failed to manage the first post-Sarri crisis.

Angry Napoli fans have hung a banner reading 'You have chosen a bad road... Respect those who love this shirt and pay you!' outside their San Paolo Stadium this week

Angry Napoli fans have hung a banner reading 'You have chosen a bad road... Respect those who love this shirt and pay you!' outside their San Paolo Stadium this week

Angry Napoli fans have hung a banner reading ‘You have chosen a bad road… Respect those who love this shirt and pay you!’ outside their San Paolo Stadium this week

Napoli's players, including Kalidou Koulibaly (right), look dejected after drawing with Salzburg

Napoli's players, including Kalidou Koulibaly (right), look dejected after drawing with Salzburg

Napoli’s players, including Kalidou Koulibaly (right), look dejected after drawing with Salzburg

I stop at the barber. Everyone queuing up is talking only about Napoli. I visit Posillipo, an affluent area known for its seafood restaurants and classy cocktail bars. Here, the restaurateurs often host the players. But since this week’s player rebellion – when they refused to attend a training camp ordered by the owner Aurelio De Laurentiis – everyone is subdued.

Everyone has an opinion. I’m told Dries Mertens and Allan have decided to leave because they are fed up with the strict orders being passed down by the owner. The mutiny seems indicative of a breakdown in the relationship between the players and management. It appears talks on contract renewals are stalling.

Many supporters are amazed by the situation at the club and are determined to let everyone at Napoli know their feelings. They are angry with De Laurentiis and the players, accusing them of being money-obsessed mercenaries.

Banners and flags, accusing the key men of disrespecting the club and its fans, are springing up all round the city.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis (left) and boss Carlo Ancelotti are at loggerheads

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis (left) and boss Carlo Ancelotti are at loggerheads

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis (left) and boss Carlo Ancelotti are at loggerheads

Napoli fans gathered outside San Paolo Stadium, chanting and setting off flares on Thursday

Napoli fans gathered outside San Paolo Stadium, chanting and setting off flares on Thursday

Napoli fans gathered outside San Paolo Stadium, chanting and setting off flares on Thursday

Supporters have moved their banner to iconic locations around the city to make their point

Supporters have moved their banner to iconic locations around the city to make their point

Supporters have moved their banner to iconic locations around the city to make their point

Every fan has an opinion and the current manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is not coming out of the crisis well. The veteran boss is undoubtedly respected, but these frustrated fans are now fondly harking back to the reign of the volatile Maurizio Sarri.

The Tuscan coach made following Napoli fun, and even though he didn’t win anything, the team permanently occupied the first and second place in the standings during his tenure.

Yet Ancelotti is judged to be too silent. He seems unable to get angry, whereas Sarri screamed and screamed during matches.

Ancelotti also seems to have struggled to integrate himself in Naples. This city is unique and the club is also unique: it is not a PSG, a Chelsea or an AC Milan. Ancelotti should remember this.

He has an English style too, he is different from everyone here and so, as a waiter reminded me, he often seems like a fish out of water.

Napoli supporters also hung their banner near the front of the Naples' national museum

Napoli supporters also hung their banner near the front of the Naples' national museum

Napoli supporters also hung their banner near the front of the Naples’ national museum

Ancelotti and his players took part in a training session inside their ground on Thursday

Ancelotti and his players took part in a training session inside their ground on Thursday

Ancelotti and his players took part in a training session inside their ground on Thursday

Lorenzo Insigne was picked out for plenty of vitriol by fans - who let their feelings be known

Lorenzo Insigne was picked out for plenty of vitriol by fans - who let their feelings be known

Lorenzo Insigne was picked out for plenty of vitriol by fans – who let their feelings be known

The attitudes of his players are also alienating these passionate fans. Many were upset with Allan, Mertens and Jose Callejon. The players did not seem to consider Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg as disappointing. The fans expect more. Demand more.

In the eyes of many, De Laurentiis is vindictive and in the summer he will be happy to remove players who have disobeyed a club order.

Naples is in love with the team and Mertens, the Belgian, occupies a place in the heart of every inhabitant of the city, even in those who do not like football. But he may be one of the first to be shipped out, with Roma or China his likely destination.

The Senegalese defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, also looks like he’s playing his final season here, with Premier League clubs circling.

His exit may be the first of many at a club where the split between fans and the hierarchy seems at an all-time low.

The only short-term solution, to paper over these huge cracks, is an inspired, passionate display in Saturday’s home match with Genoa. But even that may not be enough to save many of the key players in this tragedy.

Dries Mertens is a hero among the people of Naples, but even he is believed to want to leave

Dries Mertens is a hero among the people of Naples, but even he is believed to want to leave

Dries Mertens is a hero among the people of Naples, but even he is believed to want to leave

A group of fans hold up their banner in front of Castel Nuovo as the club's crisis continues

A group of fans hold up their banner in front of Castel Nuovo as the club's crisis continues

A group of fans hold up their banner in front of Castel Nuovo as the club’s crisis continues 

 

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