Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has demanded his players address a lack of sharpness ahead of their vital trip to Parma on Sunday.
Victory over Parma would allow Napoli to close the gap between themselves and second-placed Inter to a single point, after the defending Italian champions drew 1-1 at Brescia on Friday.
But for Napoli to do so would mean turning around their poor form of late, which has seen the Naples outfit fall 3-0 at AC Milan and labour through a 0-0 draw against Brescia.
Mazzarri denied his team’s performance has dropped off in recent weeks, but said his players need to find their extra touch when they take to the Stadio Ennio Tardini on Sunday.
“I’ve heard someone speaking of a drop in the team performance. I want to say this team hasn’t dropped its performance,” Mazzarri said.
“There were matches in which some single players’ performances weren’t great, but that was because they had played a lot and lost a bit of sharpness.”
“We have gone back to our old habits – the team plays well, we always do something more than our opponents, but we reap a little less.”
“But as I’ve just said, some guy lost a bit of sharpness in our play. It’s an individual problem – we didn’t see it at the level of the group.”
Mazzarri also insisted he is not at all concerned with the league table, saying there is still too long left in the competition to start thinking about a Scudetto challenge or a Champions League berth.
“I’m not thinking about Inter Milan or anything else” he said.
“If you want me to think about Inter Milan I will, and then I’ll think about AC Milan and Lazio and Udinese, and then Roma or something else, and then Palermo.”
“We can still gain 30 points and 10 matches are still to be played, so anything can still happen.”
“Nobody will take this from my mind and from the team I am manager of. If I’m here talking like this it’s because I don’t want any distraction of any sort.”
“My energies are all put in helping my team reach their best. They’re playing an extraordinary championship, beyond all expectations.”