Garcia hopes the TikTok saga is banished as Osimhen scores against Udinese
Napoli manager Rudi Garcia hopes the club can put the recent drama behind them after Victor Osimhen and Kvicha KvKvaratskhelia's against Udinese. ‘Nobody intended to be hurtful’ with those TikTok videos.
It had been a very tense situation in the build-up to the match, with some fans and media calling for the coach to be fired, then Osimhen first raging at Garcia over a substitution, then threatening legal action against the club over a TikTok video mocking his missed penalty against Bologna.
There was the recipe for further problems in the match against Udinese when Napoli received a penalty, but it was taken by Piotr Zielinski rather than Osimhen.
The Nigerian did get his goal in the end, ran to the touchline, and hugged Jesper Lindstrom.
“Don’t you worry about me, I have some experience, I’ve got broad shoulders, I’ll be fine,” smiled the coach on DAZN after a 4-1 victory.
“I am happy for the lads, we really enjoyed seeing this Napoli side control the game, create many chances, and push harder to turn good fortune our way. For example, Kvara hit the woodwork twice, but he got the goal eventually. He was fantastic tonight, as he also earned a penalty, and provided an assist, but the important thing is that he scored after all that and it means a lot about his mentality.
“Now that he has scored, I think it will take a big weight off his shoulders. I had spoken to him for a long time and told him not to think about it too much, to just enjoy his football. There are few players who can take men on the way he can, we encourage him to do that and when he plays with joy, everything is fine.
“The only negative aspect of the evening is that we conceded a goal, even if it was a great goal from Samardzic. We won at home, but importantly won the way we wanted to win.”
Garcia was asked if he had thanked Osimhen for finding the goal, celebrating with his teammates, and rediscovering his smile.
“I complimented him, which is different. I have had a very good rapport with Victor since the moment I arrived. I am happy because he scored a goal and centre-forwards always want to score goals. He too was unlucky hitting the crossbar and upright in the last few games, but I told him to stay focused on the game.
“Technically, he provided an assist today, because I had named him as the penalty taker this evening. I do not take someone off penalty duties if they make a mistake, but he decided to give that assist to Zielinski.”
Off-the-field incidents after the Bologna match
The last four days have been absolutely chaotic for Osimhen and Napoli, as after his touchline row with Garcia over a substitution against Bologna, there was the TikTok video that went viral, followed by threats of legal action and the striker taking down all images of him in the Partenopei jersey on his social media accounts.
“In Bologna, we were all frustrated at not winning and he was even more after missing a penalty, so that can happen. We cleared the air, and it all went back to normal,” assured the coach.
“Over the last two days, there was a bit of trouble with some clumsy behaviour. Nobody wanted to be hurtful, not the TikTok with the video of Victor, nor Victor by taking his photographs down on social media. Nobody intended to hurt anyone, these are instinctive reactions and are understandable.
“It is his social media account, he can do what he wants with it. All I can say is that he loves this jersey and will give everything for Napoli this season as well.”
The DAZN pundits put to Garcia that he is less a coach at Napoli and more constantly putting out fires in the media and on social media.
“I have been a coach for almost 30 years and at the start, you had to spend 80 percent of the time working on the pitch, then 20 percent on dealing with extra-sporting situations, what is around the players, the directors, the media. For a while now, it has been about 80 percent of that stuff and 20 percent work on the pitch.
“This is part of the job nowadays, if you don’t like it, then you have to do something else for a living.”