POST TIME: 22 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Serie A coaching shuffle gives Ancelotti’s Napoli hope of toppling Juventus
AFP, Milan

Serie A coaching shuffle gives Ancelotti’s Napoli hope of toppling Juventus

In this file photo taken on August 10, 2019 SSC Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts during the first half of the La Liga-Serie A Cup match against FC Barcelona at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. AFP photo

As the sole survivor of a coaching shuffle among the leading challengers, Carlo Ancelotti could have the best chance to end Napoli's 30-year wait for the Serie A title.

Yet Antonio Conte's arrival at Inter Milan has also raised expectations of an end to Juventus's long domination in the season that kicks off on Saturday.

Serie A runners-up Napoli have not held the Scudetto aloft since Argentine legend Diego Maradona inspired them to their only titles in 1987 and 1990.

Ancelotti's campaign begins in Fiorentina on Saturday, after Juventus, now coached by Maurizio Sarri, open their quest for a ninth consecutive title in Parma.

Chinese-owned Inter Milan have also changed coaches with former Juventus and Chelsea boss Conte back home in Italy. Marco Giampaolo takes over at AC Milan and Paulo Fonseca at Roma.

Sarri came close two years ago when he guided Napoli to runners-up spot, just four points behind Juventus, before moving to Chelsea.

At 60, Sarri returns to Italy to coach Juventus as the champions look for a new direction despite five trophy-laden seasons under Massimiliano Allegri.

The decision by Napoli-native Sarri to move north has hurt in his home town.

“For us Neapolitans, that was a betrayal,” said captain Lorenzo Insigne.

“Now we have to try to beat him at all costs.”

Ancelotti embarks on the second year of his three-year contract, and wants silverware this campaign.

The 60-year-old has won titles in Europe's five biggest leagues. His Serie A title came with AC Milan back in 2004.

He arrived in Naples boasting three Champions League trophies from his spells with Milan and Real Madrid, and a Premier League title from his two-year tenure at Chelsea.

The veteran coach insists he has learned from his “transitional” first season.

“We drew back the arrow, now we are ready to fire,” he warned.

Ancelotti has bolstered in all areas with the arrival of defender Kostas Manolas, midfielder Elif Elmas and winger Hirving Lozano.