Finished my first season with Napoli this past weekend, and thought I'd share a bit with everyone here, as this thread gave me the inspiration to start with them.
It became a real nail-biter at the end, but I managed to win the league. We started out hot, but then really lost form as the season wore on. I had a double-digit point lead on Juventus around the winter break, but then they became a machine and would not get anything other than a win while we gave up leads and settled for draws, or dropped games that we really should have been winning. It all came down to the final game of the season, we had a 1 point lead on Juve. A 2-2 draw with Lazio meant that we were heading for second place...then Atalanta scored to tie Juve in the 83rd! We both drew, and we were champions.
My player of the year without a doubt was Hamsik, who rightly won the Serie A player of the year award. He had 15 goals and 10 assists, and towards the end of the season he really showed why he was captain, willing the team to results. He scored both for us in the final game of the season.
Higuain started out a bit slow (I don't think he scored in a league game until late October), but then found his scoring touch and ended up in the team of the season, along with Hamsik in midfield and our defensive leader, Raul Albiol:
Albiol also won defender of the year (our signing Alvarez Balanta came in 3rd in voting).
Besides league glory, beyond all of my own expectations, I managed to pull of a treble! Okay, it was the Europa League and not the Champions League, but my job status is now untouchable after the first season.
My fixture list:
Getting knocked out of our Champions League group at home by Zenit on the last day of the group at home was a big disappointment. I also lost to them 2-3 in St. Petersburg. I was frustrated by that, considering that we easily handled Porto, who I thought would be our biggest competition for the knockout stages. I felt slightly better when Zenit went on to barely lose to PSG in the semifinals! (PSG then lost to Real Madrid in the final).
The Europa League turned out to be a rollercoaster. First up was PAOK, who we beat 2-1 on aggregate. Then was Sevilla. 3-0 at home, sitting pretty for the return leg. A 3-1 loss in Sevilla meant we squeaked through. Next up was Swansea. A frustrating 2-2 result at home meant the away leg was going to be tense. We ran away with it, 2-0. Next up, Freiburg, who we actually played our first pre-season friendly against. Again, we did no favors to ourselves, winning 4-3 at home. We were losing 2-1, and Higuain was getting fatigued. I threw on Duvan Zapata and prayed he could do something. He scored on a header in the 91st minute to send us through!
The final was against Marseilles, and again we had to make it dramatic:
Going down a goal in the 9th minute. Higuain equalized in the 39th, and we got a OM own goal just before halftime. We come back and get another own goal just after the break. 3-1 and sitting pretty. Then Valbuena scores. 3-2. Valon Behrami, who picked up a yellow card just minutes earlier, furiously argues with the ref about it not being offside, and he picks up a second yellow for dissent. I try parking the bus, then Higuain gives us a bit of breathing room with his second goal in the 80th minute. Payet scores his second for OM in the 84th, and I was biting my nails until the final whistle.
I'm taking a break before launching into the new season. Really need to consider what to do with the squad. Reina has been a very good #1 goalkeeper, but I'm not interested in paying for the transfer fee, and getting rid of his wages would definitely give us some breathing room. I'm also debating on giving Pandev a new contract beyond the end of next season.