Sempre! Feature – Interview with CalcioNapoli24’s Claudio Russo

Ken (@NapoliStats) had the pleasure of chatting Napoli with Claudio Russo (@ClaudioRuss) of CalcioNapoli 24, about all things Napoli. It was exciting to converse with someone like Claudio, who is around the team often, and he was more than gracious to take the time to correspond with us. Without further adieu, let’s get into it;

Ken: First, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. How did you get involved with covering Napoli, and how long have you been doing it for?

Claudio: “Well, I got involved with SSC Napoli in 2010: I was searching for a website where I could start, I found PianetAzzurro (one of the first websites covering the club for years). Until September 2011 I never went to San Paolo press box, [and when I finally went] it was Napoli-Chievo 1-3 … damn! 

With [the] 2011/2012 season I started covering SSC Napoli for Italian TV Sportitalia (kudos to Silver Mele for everything): Serie A, Champions League, Coppa Italia. It was a dream: I remember a post-game interview with Edinson Cavani, after a draw with Sampdoria. 

Silver told me to go only minutes before it, so I was a bit nervous: cameras, a player like Edi, [the] press officer who saw me with curiosity … it went well, after all.

From [the] 2012 preseason in Dimaro, I started with CalcioNapoli24 which is now a family for me. Of course, often I speak on-air with some radio stations or do TV shows with Carlo Alvino on TV Luna … but I feel home at CalcioNapoli24.”

Ken: How is the feeling in Naples so far this season? Do the fans believe it’s now or never for the Scudetto?

Claudio: “Feelings are generally good, there is this view like “now or never” which is also the same of all players: they stayed here and said it in all the interviews they’ve done.

Of course Sarri’s style of play is unique, fans are in love with him … but Napoli is a place where you are in Heaven with two wins, but you go to Hell not only with a loss, but also with a draw.”

Ken: Claudio, what’s your view on Sarri and rotation? Is the perception in Naples positive or negative on this?

Claudio: “Generally good, not only because his results are good … but it’s a bit strange for me to see all the best players on the pitch versus Benevento or Spal or when the game is close. [Are we] Sure Giaccherini, Ounas or Maksimovic cannot play vs a club who lost all games? 

For sure fans [have] accepted Sarri’s view, but it’s the same with the results: when Napoli wins, he could play eleven players until world ends. If he draws or loses a match …”Why haven’t you fielded players from the bench?!?”. It’s like a tradition: see the worst things [only] when there is only something to improve.”

Ken: Next, I’d like to ask about Marek Hamsik’s form, where do you he think it’s went wrong this season? Do you think getting the goal vs Torino will be his way to turn it around?

Claudio: “I think that Hamsik wasn’t in his best physical condition in the first [few] months, maybe mentally Maradona’s record could have had an impact.

Obviously technically he was a beast on the left side with Ghoulam and Insigne, but when Faouzi got hurt, Marek played below his [normal] level. 

Maybe we expect from him every match to do more than he really could. When he didn’t find the net, he tried to do other stuff from a defensive side. But he’s fundamental to Napoli on the offensive side, we have seen it.

So let’s see if he could continue the good moment after Torino, [it] would be perfect for him and for Napoli’s season.”

Ken: What are some of your thoughts on the upcoming January market? Who do you think we should expect to arrive?

Claudio: “I think that two players will arrive: Roberto Inglese and a fullback, because Christian Maggio will leave at the end of the season, so it’s better to cash [in] now with a new right back (Hysaj could play on the left until Ghoulam will return).

Vrsaljko was 1st choice, he asked Atletico Madrid to leave but they also have some problems with fullbacks: Darmian’s wage is too high for Napoli, maybe in the next days a new name could be expected.

Grimaldo and Masina are also targeted, but only if Ghoulam will leave and I think it’s difficult.

Ciciretti, Machach and Younes are really good if they will be signed free agents: Amato and Zinedine maybe will never wear the Napoli shirt, they could be traded to other clubs. It’s a chance. Younes, however, would be a great signing: let’s see what happens.”

Ken: Lastly, who have been some of your favorite Napoli players or favorite moments over the years?

Claudio: “I covered three years of Gonzalo Higuain here in Napoli, [I] never have seen someone like him. A beast, and who cares – from my point of view as a journalist – of his choice to join Juventus.

Maybe not the best, but I have admired him as a player. Also Benitez was really good as a person, I went to Newcastle to interview him and we’ve had some good thoughts about his experience.”

“Favourite moment? Coppa Italia vs Juventus: Silver [Mele] told me that I would have covered Napoli’s fans if Napoli has won (which they did).

It was the first time that I made ‘TV news’ by myself: I finished to work at 2-3am, [it] was an honour for me to see my work on the TV. It opened the main program at Sportitalia!”

Again, we would like to thank Claudio for taking the time out to talk with us. Please follow him @ClaudioRuss on twitter, and be sure to stay tuned for more content with Claudio coming in the future.

By Ken Cioffredi

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