Maurizio Sarri hopes striker Manolo Gabbiadini is not adversely affected after being jeered by Napoli fans as he made way for Dries Mertens in the 3-1 home defeat to Roma.
Sarri selected Gabbiadini to lead the line in the absence of the injured Arkadiusz Milik but replaced him in the 56th minute with Napoli trailing 2-0 to an Edin Dzeko double.
The Italy international received a negative reception from the home fans as he made his way off the pitch but Sarri insisted his decision was tactical and not based on how Gabbiadini had performed.
“I replaced Gabbiadini because it was a moment of the game where I needed to change the tide, so required other characteristics,” the coach told Mediaset.
“We were creating a great deal and tried something a bit different, seeing as we were trailing.
“I hope he won’t be affected by this. It was a tactical change, not punishment for his performance. The lad must take the situation for what it is.
“Mertens as a ‘false nine’ was an attempt to make the opposition defence move and draw their centre-backs out.
“Dries does these things well, it’s a role he can do, but naturally we can’t expect him to be a centre-forward in the traditional sense.”
Kalidou Koulibaly pulled one back for Napoli before Mohamed Salah made sure all three points went back to Rome.
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