Benitez: Napoli are not in free fall

The coach has claimed that the team are in a positive place ahead of the Serie A clash with Lazio on Monday, despite having lost three games in a row in all competitions

Napoli boss Rafa Benitez has rubbished suggestions that his side are in free fall ahead of his side's Serie A clash with Lazio on Monday.

Though the Partenopei sit third in Serie A, they have lost their last three matches in all competitions including league defeats against Juventus and Parma.

However, Benitez feels his squad have made improvements during the season and believes spectators must focus on the bigger picture when it comes to assessing his team.

"This group of players is working very hard and is very concentrated, and this is why we made such a good start to the championship," the former Chelsea and Inter coach told reporters on Sunday.

"The team are also in the Champions League with nine points, therefore I believe the balance is positive.

"We made a mistake in a difficult moment and were defeated in the match against Parma. This means we should be even more focused on the job we have to do."

Napoli brought in the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol and Jose Callejon in the summer and Benitez, who took charge at the Stadio San Paolo in May, feels the club must be afforded time to grow off the field.

He added: "When I was brought here, [club president Aurelio De Laurentiis] talked to me about his project to improve the club and this is what both of us want to do.

"We want to improve the structure and the club in order to attract important players and convince them to remain in this team. This is our idea.

"I believe this is a unique opportunity for the club because they made a great job in the past and this allows Napoli to find important players able to make the difference and be competitive at high levels.

"We shouldn't be proud of the team because we win the championship once every 25 years. We have to be proud because every year the club has a certain level that allows us to be competitive in Europe.

"This is what we want to do, but this is of course a long path and sometimes we can make mistakes and we can be defeated, but this is the path we have to follow."