Gennaro Gattuso will not be in charge of Napoli next season, as announced by the club bigwig Aurelio De Laurentiis following the Serie A Matchday 38 collapse. The Partenopei failed to qualify for the Champions League in a thrilling photo finish, as Milan and Juventus joined Inter and Atalanta in the coveted top four.
Heading into the final day of the season, Napoli seemed to be in a prime position to claim a top-four finish despite holding a slim one-point lead on fifth-placed Juventus. With out-of-sorts Hellas Verona arriving at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, everyone expected Gattuso’s side to have a walk in the park.
Unfortunately for the Napoli supporters, a fairytale turned into a nightmare. Following a goalless first-half, the Partenopei drew first blood as Amir Rrahmani hammered home a powerful effort from inside the box to put the home team in front.
Although the hosts earned their lead, their joy didn’t last long. Only nine minutes after taking advantage, Napoli’s backline was caught off guard.
Koray Gunter’s long ball from his own 18-yard box found its way past Elseid Hysaj to set Davide Faraoni one-on-one with Alex Meret. The captain kept his calm and curled the ball off the post and into the net to put things back to square one.
With 20 minutes left, Napoli parked all the bodies up front, desperately seeking a winner. Tiemoue Bakayoko and second-half substitute Dries Mertens spurned two glorious chances to restore Napoli’s lead.
When everything seemed lost for the Partenopei, Andrea Petagna escaped his marker on the edge of the six-yard box but misdirected his header. After the final whistle, tears and disappointment overwhelmed the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
It was a sad way to say goodbye to an impressive, albeit turbulent season. It is even more painful for Gennaro Gattuso, who served as the Napoli manager one last time.
The 43-year-old Italian will part company with the club this summer, which was confirmed by De Laurentiis in the aftermath.
“Dear Rino, I’m happy to have spent almost two seasons with you,” he tweeted. ” Thank you very much for your work and I wish you all the best wherever you may go. Big hugs to you, your wife, and your children too.”