Benitez: I have changed Napoli's mentality

The 53-year-old reflected positively on his first six months in charge, but believes there is even more to come from his team in 2014.
Napoli boss Rafael Benitez believes he has changed the club's mentality since taking over as coach at San Paolo in the summer.

The Partenopei currently sit third in Serie A – eight points behind leaders Juventus - after 16 matches and narrowly missed out on qualification to the Champions League knockout stages in a group which included Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game away to Cagliari, Benitez says he has been impressed with the way his new squad have performed to date in his first campaign in charge.

"The balance of these six months at Napoli has to be considered very positive both in the way we have evolved and with what has been achieved," he told reporters. "As well as the results, I am very happy because we have managed to change the mentality of the squad. Now a draw is not good enough for us and we always aspire to much more.

"I am also convinced that the coming year will be even better than this one has been. I would like to thank all Neapolitan fans for the affection and warmth that I have felt."

Benitez expects a difficult challenge against Cagliari, who have only lost once in eight home matches in Serie A this season.

"Like all the games this will be difficult and complicated," said the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager. "We have prepared to face it with the maximum intensity. The key word for me is balance. I am not hugely concerned about the amount of goals we score - it is the final results that are the difference."

After Saturday's clash, Napoli will not have another fixture for 16 days, until it faces Sampdoria at home January 6.