Napoli fires coach Rudi Garcia after 3rd loss of Serie A campaign and rehires Walter Mazzarri

NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Six months after storming to its first Serie A title since the days when Diego Maradona played for the club, Napoli is in a state of upheaval.

The southern club fired coach Rudi Garcia on Tuesday, two days after the team’s third loss in Serie A this season, and replaced him with Walter Mazzarri, who returns to Napoli 10 years after leading it to a runner-up finish in the Italian league.

Napoli announced Mazzarri’s appointment on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, and also posted a brief statement on its website about Garcia’s dismissal to “thank Rudi and his coaching staff for their hard work.”

Italian media reported that the 62-year-old Mazzarri has been given a six-month contract, until the end of the season.

Garcia had taken over this offseason from title-winning manager Luciano Spalletti, who left to take a year-long sabbatical and then was named coach of Italy’s national team following Roberto Mancini’s resignation.

Napoli lost just two matches at home on its way to the title last season under Spalletti and it was a disappointing 1-0 defeat to lowly Empoli on Sunday that prompted club president Aurelio De Laurentiis to make the change.

Napoli remained fourth and slipped 10 points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan.

The 59-year-old Garcia, a Frenchman, had a fairly successful spell with Roma from 2013-16 during his only previous job in Italy. But he didn’t achieve the desired results in his most recent job at Al Nassr, the Saudi Arabian team that Cristiano Ronaldo joined after the World Cup.

Standout center forward Victor Osimhen has been injured and Garcia was questioned for benching dribbling wizard Khvicha Kvaratskhelia — last season’s Serie A MVP — at the start against Empoli. There were jeers when Garcia’s name was read out before the match.

Mazzarri spent four seasons in charge at Napoli before leaving in 2013 and joining Inter Milan. He led Napoli to the Italian Cup in 2012.

Mazzarri faces a tough start to his second spell at the helm as Napoli’s matches after the international break are against Atalanta, Real Madrid, Inter and Juventus.


AP soccer:

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