Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: 5 / Top scorer: Di Natale (14)
Andrea Stramaccioni discovered it was far from easy to continue where Francesco Guidolin left off, competing for European spots with a squad of youngsters and unknowns, writes Mohamed Nassar.
It looked like business as usual at the start of the season. Udinese began extremely well and collected 16 points from their first eight games. This run sustained them in the top half of the table until just before the winter break, then the wheels began to come off.
Coach Andrea Stramaccioni blamed injuries, refereeing and luck, which at times really did seem stacked up against them, but the fact of the matter remains that Udinese managed only four wins in 2015 and lost an incredible seven of their last 10 games.
The similarities between Strama’s season at Udine and his full term on the Inter bench are striking, as both were bright starts, ran into problems midway through to end in chaos. It appears that the young Coach just doesn’t have what it takes to turn the ship around when things aren’t going his way. Udinese’s 2015 has been marred by tactical chaos, reported infighting and the lack of a clear vision to return to winning ways.
Surely, the loss of Roberto Pereyra, Luis Muriel and Pablo Armero with no real replacements took its toll on the Udinese squad. This coupled with a strike force whose top two hitmen have a combined age just shy of 70 may explain a portion of Udinese’s poor form.
However, their midfielders Allan and Silvan Widmer have both developed into some of the league’s most interesting younger prospects, while newcomer Molla Wague has been very promising since his arrival from Granada during the winter break.
It looks as if this will be the one and only campaign for Strama at the Stadio Friuli, but fans hope it won’t be the last for Antonio Di Natale. After all, the legendary captain already changed his mind about retiring a year ago.
Since his ill-fated stint at Inter a couple of years ago, the young tactician has been out of a job. He was appointed to continue the legacy of outgoing long time Coach Guidolin. While the season hasn’t been a success, it is always difficult to judge a Coach on his first year, especially after seeing some of his best players shipped out of the club.
The tough-tackling and skilful Brazilian midfielder has been instrumental in almost all aspects of midfield play, from ball recovery to retention and distribution. It appears that three’s a charm with Allan as it is this season, his third with Udinese, which finally saw him develop leaps and bounds becoming the subject of interest for top clubs across Europe.
- This is the lowest Udinese have finished since the 1992-93 season, when they also finished 16th and were relegated to Serie B.
- This is the first season since 2009-10 where Antonio Di Natale has scored less than 15 goals and is out of the top five in the Capocannoniere charts.
- Outside of Di Natale and Cyril Thereau’s combined 24 goals, Udinese’s remaining three strikers managed just one each.
|27||D||Stefan Widmer||35 (1)||2||4|
|75||D||Thomas Heurtaux||24 (2)||1||1|
|18||D||Igor Bubnjic||5 (1)||-||-|
|11||D||Maurizio Domizzi||10 (1)||-||-|
|34||D||Gabriel Silva||8 (3)||-||-|
|26||D||Giovanni Pasquale||14 (7)||-||1|
|n/a||D||Nicola Belmonte||0 (2)||-||-|
|66||M||Giampiero Pinzi||14 (5)||1||-|
|7||M||Emmanuel Badu||20 (7)||1||1|
|33||M||Panagiotis Kone||20 (8)||1||3|
|8||M||Bruno Fernandez||16 (15)||3||2|
|95||M||Lucas Evangelista||1 (3)||-||-|
|trf||M||Luis Muriel||5 (6)||-||1|
|21||M||Melker Hallberg||2 (2)||-||-|
|n/a||M||Simone Pontisso||0 (1)||-||-|
|13||M||Alexis Zapata||0 (1)||-||-|
|10||F||Antonio Di Natale||27 (6)||14||7|
|77||F||Cyrill Thereau||25 (12)||10||-|
|94||F||Rodrigo Aguirre||1 (6)||1||-|
|9||F||Stipa Perica||5 (4)||1||-|
|82||F||Alexandre Geijo||5 (8)||1||-|