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10 December 2023

Young Napoli still have to improve, says Mazzarri


Nine goals in their last two games has done little to convince Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri that his team is capable of doing much better than their current sixth place in Serie A.

Napoli earned an impressive 3-1 win at Palermo on Sunday, in the derby of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, having ended 2011 with a 6-1 demolition of Genoa.

But an inconsistent start to the season has left them 10 points behind leaders AC Milan and Juventus.

Despite some eye-catching performances and results this season -- they have beaten Manchester City, Milan and Inter Milan -- Mazzarri still thinks his side is far from the finished article.

And he wasn't even entirely satisfied with Sunday's performance.

"You must always give 100 percent, until we went 2-0 up the game was always in the balance," he said.

"Palermo had a couple of very dangerous chances while several times in defence we were careless and that shouldn't happen.

"After the third goal Palermo's heads dropped but we need to improve, we're a young team and there's still a lot to learn."

Despite the comfortable scoreline in Sicily -- Palermo's consolation came a minute from time -- there was no debut for new Chile signing Eduardo Vargas.

But Mazzarri insisted he doesn't want to put too much pressure on the 22-year-old striker, who has been capped nine times by Chile.

"He's very young, it's an investment for the future, we must try not to create tension and (we must) leave him in peace," said Mazzarri.

"In any case we have diverse options in attack and when (Ezequiel) Lavezzi is back it will be difficult to choose who to play."

The reason Lavezzi hasn't been missed is the fine form of on-loan Inter Milan forward Goran Pandev, who scored again on Sunday.

Having taken his time to settle in Naples, the Macedonia forward has become increasingly important, scoring in each of the last two games having also bagged a brace in the 3-3 draw with Juventus at the end of November.

"We're playing from memory, we really feel good and we're creating a lot of chances," said Pandev. "We want to close in on the top places and we can do that, even though those in front of us are flying."

However, Pandev's agent Carlo Pallavicino told a local radio station that there is no guarantee his charge will extend his stay beyond the end of the season.

"Pandev's future here depends on many things and I can't say anything at this time but I would be happy if he could stay here," he said.

"Pandev is more interested in human aspects than economic ones and Napoli have given him back the dignity of a champion, which is more important than any number in a bank account."