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Gattuso dreams more quality with Napoli amid UEL win

Gennaro Gattuso praised Napoli for their tactical discipline after a 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad in the Europa League, but he’d ‘like to see more quality.’

A Matteo Politano strike took a deflection to snatch victory in the Europa League, which was necessary after losing the opener at home to AZ Alkmaar.

“I think more than 50 per cent of our qualification chances were up for grabs here, as we made life complicated for ourselves against AZ,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was not easy at all. Real Sociedad usually play an ultra-attacking football, but they changed to make it tough for us today, they were more defensive and frustrated us.

“I have to praise my players, as they fought so hard, they were tactically solid and always on their toes. The only thing we needed to improve was some of the quality.

“After 25 minutes we changed, as we stopped going to press them, we sat back and waited. Real Sociedad want to open you up and play on the through lines, but it was the wise thing for us to sit back and wait for them to come to us, because before that we risked several dangerous counter-attacks with three against three or four against four.”

Lorenzo Insigne went off after 22 minutes with a recurrence of that thigh injury.

“Lorenzo said he stopped in time and it wasn’t the same intensity of pain that he felt last time, so hopefully it’s not serious.”

AZ Alkmaar are now top of the group with six points, having beaten HNK Rijeka 4-1, followed by Napoli and Real Sociedad on three.

Gattuso was asked if he feels that he has a potential Scudetto-winning team at his disposal.

“Maybe yes, maybe no, I don’t know. What I feel is that I am dealing with a team that works very hard and is determined. I liked the team tonight, but in order to become a truly great side, we have to maintain the same mentality even after changing four or five players. I’d like us to play more attacking with the quality we’ve got in games like this.

“I have a strong team, yes, but I don’t know about the Scudetto. We want to get back into the Champions League and after that we’ll see what happens.

“This is a complicated season, not just for us, where every morning you have to wake up and pray you only lose one or two players that session.

“I am a coach who focuses on the essentials and I give everything for my players, but I need to see professionalism, respect for each other and those around us. I expect more from this team because I know it is capable of it.

“Intensity and determination are wonderful, but this is a team with a lot of quality and we don’t show it enough. It’s wonderful to work with these players and I hope they continue like this.”

Hirving Lozano replaced Insigne and has never run so hard, as in stoppages he made a sprint back for a sliding tackle. How did Gattuso transform the player we saw last season?

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“I remember when Chucky played for PSV Eindhoven, it’s not that Napoli are crazy and paid €40m for someone who wasn’t good. He had a problem, which was that when he kicked the ball, he’d fall over as he didn’t have enough strength in his legs. He needs to be trained a certain way.

“I don’t take the credit at all, it is entirely his credit for the work he has done to get stronger. He is someone who needs fuel in the tank.”

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