Friday November 30 2012
Udinese – money or trophies?

As Udinese celebrate their 106th birthday, Alex Mott argues that they should forego their profit-making philosophy and focus on trophies.

The last three years have really been a period of unparalleled success in the history of Udinese Calcio. For a provincial club in the north-east of Italy, they have managed to hit the continuous heights only normally reserved for the giants of the game.

A succession of top four finishes saw the Zebrette qualify for the Champions League on two occasions, and their brand of high-intensity, counter-attacking football made them one of the best teams to watch in Serie A.

They were the peoples' favourites and with Francesco Guidolin in charge, they had a Coach who implemented his philosophy whatever the opponent.

As well as an idealistic boss, over that time, some of the best players in Europe passed through the doors of the Stadio Friuli. Their experimental scouting network unearthed gems from every corner of the globe and turned the Pozzo family owners into one of the most envied on the continent.

The problem with being a provincial, unfashionable side, however, is exactly that. And keeping your best players becomes something of a task.

Samir Handanovic, Mauricio Isla, Kwadwo Asamoah, Gokhan Inler, Cristian Zapata and Alexis Sanchez. All of them have been the shining stars over the past few years and all of them have gone on to pastures new.

It's been a model that has reaped in unimaginable rewards, both on the pitch and financially, but is it time that Udinese put a stop to their profit-gaining enterprise and splashed out on winning a trophy?

For all their endeavours, the Bianconeri are yet to win a domestic competition outside of Serie B and C. Ever. Their biggest honour to date was the Intertoto Cup in 2000 and even that was an extra time win over Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic.

It's not the roll of honour deserved of a team founded 116 years ago today and it so easily could have been different if all those names had stayed just that extra year and they had won the two Champions League play-offs against Arsenal and Braga. The fact is though, against the Portuguese side in particular, they were prophets of their own downfall.

Some may say that argument’s flawed, that the next generation of Zebrette players could be just as prolific as the last. Results so far this season though, would say otherwise. Losses to Lazio, Fiorentina, Juventus and Napoli can be tolerated – draws with Siena, Chievo and Torino really can't.

Squad members like Maicosuel, Mathias Ranegie and Zeljko Brkic just aren't inspiring the same sort of form displayed by their contemporaries and 12th place in Serie A would back that up. It seems that only the absurdly consistent Antonio Di Natale is stopping them from sinking all together. And at 35, he's certainly not going to be around forever.

From afar, the scouting network seems to have lost its touch and the owners look more preoccupied with their toy things at Granada and Watford.

It's the ultimate conundrum in modern football – make a profit or win a trophy. It's a dilemma currently being considered by clubs all over Europe. The likes of Arsenal, Lyon and Atletico Madrid have wrestled with the thought, or are in the midst of doing so.

Udinese are not as big as those clubs, but they could be as great as them over a short space of time. No one wants to see them go under, like so many before, but it looks like they're being run by a tax man and not a tactician.

Perhaps patience and some capped greed from the President is all that they need, and a serious Scudetto challenge could not be too far off?

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Have your say...
udine couth have been a side chalenging for the scudeto with player like : Handanovic;Isla,Benatia,Zapata,Armero;Pereyra,Inler,Asamoah;Sancez,Di Natale,Qurjalela; with this squad and coach like guidolin udine woth have been at let 2 place or 3 and in the last 16 in the CL lock at these players all of them are with huge qualiti the owner couth have had more money in the CL than he got of their transvers yes this woth have been a gamble but it woth have been a good way to gamble...
on the 3rd December, 2012 at 2:28pm
Udinese are to 2000s-early 2010s calcio, what Parma were to the 90s, Verona were to the 80s, and Cagliari to the 70s. They're only in the higher reaches of Serie A, because of the inconsistencies of more noted names. The Fruili region is not a footballing hotbed, and if some sleeping giants woke up, and Serie A was reduced to 16, Udinese would most likely be a yo-yo club.
on the 2nd December, 2012 at 4:29pm
First of all finish your 22.000 seater stadium and earn 8-10 mill. more per year. Then you might be able to keep one star and you give the viewers a better experice.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 10:04pm
@Dario and @Dan Giambrone

Totally agree with you guys! Pozzo could get more money from the CL and Guidolin has my sympathy.


Read my blog called "Udinese, A Team of 'Disgraziati'" and it sums up my views on Udinese and its lack of ambition in Europe.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 3:09pm
If they sold just one star player a season, instead of 3, then they would obviously be stronger on the pitch, have better continuity.

I feel sorry for Guidolin, he is a great coach, but cannot keep producing miracles, when there is so much turn-over at his club. Napoli should look at him!

It must also be tough for the fans, watching their favourite players leave so frequently. That said, the current team appears to be a lot weaker this season, so who knows, they may have the same side in 2014.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 12:02pm
I never really liked Udinese. They use little to no Italians. And, when they make the Champions League they sell off their good players and get knocked out early. Udinese contributes NOTHING to the Serie A. It is the poor man's Inter.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 2:28am
This article shows a peculiar lack of understanding of the finances of football. Squads without a major benefactor are at a financial disadvantage and play by different rules, namely, they have to make their owner money. Until you get something like a salary cap, the Udinese's of the world will always be selling their young talent to clubs owned by oil barons and the like. It's a shame but when even Arsenal is considered a "feeder" club, you realize that the inequality of football is extreme.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 12:22am
I feel so sorry for the Udinese fans...great players years in years out and lately qualifying for the champions league consisently and what do they...sell their best players when they need them most. Doesn't Mr Pozzo realise that if they go through the group stages they can also make some money! For that reason alone I was happy for them to exit Europe and now hope they go down to serie b! With the current owners they are a club with no ambition whatsoever.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 8:34pm

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