For the first time since 2010, Udinese head into a season without iconic Coach Francesco Guidolin and no European football. Aman Sehdev previews a new era in Udine.
It’s all change at Udinese. After falling out of the top five for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Bianconeri find themselves without one of their most influential personnel. After guiding the Zebretee to three top five finishes in the last four seasons - including two bites at the Champions League Play-off round - Coach Francesco Guidolin decided in May to retire from active management to take up a director role at the club.
It is now up to former Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni and assistant manager, former Nerazzurro midfielder Dejan Stankovic to try to return the club to its recent heyday. Stramaccioni, regarded as one of the Peninsula’s most promising Coaches after his successful stint with Inter’s Primavera side, endured a frustrating time with the senior outfit and was let go after just one season. He has the opportunity to rediscover his touch and get his coaching career back on a track, in a less pressure-filled environment at the Stadio Friuli.
That will be no easy feat however. The Friuli club have one of the youngest squads in Serie A and continue to rely heavily on iconic captain Antonio Di Natale. Over the years the Zebrette have continually sold off it’s best players and this summer has been no different, as talented Argentinean midfielder Roberto Pereyra has been offloaded to Juventus and Serbian winger Dusan Basta sold to Lazio.
However, Stramaccioni, known for his ability to work with youth, has an exciting crop of talented young guns at his disposal. The Bianconero faithful will be hoping the likes of Simone Scuffet, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Luis Muriel continue their growth, during what will be a period of rebuilding in Udine.
Once recognised as one of the brightest young Coaches in Italy, after guiding Inter’s primavera side to the NextGen title, Stramaccioni failed to live up to expectations bossing the senior team and was swiftly sacked after a ninth place finish in 2013. Looking to get back on track in Udine.
The evergreen icon in Udine, talismanic captain Di Natale is still Udinese’s biggest goal threat at the age of 36. Reconsidered his initial retirement plans to play on for at least one more season and is just seven goals away from 200 in Serie A. Entering his 11th season for the Bianconeri.
Kone enjoyed a fine campaign last season, despite Bologna’s relegation. The 27-year-old adds dynamism to Udinese’s attacking play and is able to operate as a winger and central midfielder. Played all three group games for Greece during the 2014 World Cup.
The 18-year-old ‘keeper burst on to the scene, Gianluigi Buffon-esque, last season at a similar age. Probably has Mattia Perin ahead of him as back-up to Buffon and Salvatore Sirigu in the Azzurri pecking order, but the product of Udinese’s youth academy has an extremely bright future at club and international level ahead.
Scuffet; Heurtaux, Domizzi, Danilo, Widmer; Pinzi, Allan, KONE, Agyemang-Badu, Muriel; Di Natale
With Torino and Verona selling key players, Udinese could take advantage and sneak into the top 10, but the departure of playmaker Roberto Pereyra and an emphasis on youth could make a top half finish a difficult prospect. Finding the right mix between youth and experience will be key for Udinese’s ambitions.
|Karnezis (Granada)||GK||Neuton (Chapecoense)||D|
|Coda (Livorno)||D||Basta (Lazio)||D|
|Pasquale (Torino)||D||Mlinar (Aarau)||M|
|Bochniewicz (Reggina)||D||Lazzari (Fiorentina)||M|
|Belmonte (Siena)||D||Maicosuel (Atletico Mineiro)||M|
|Molla Wague (Caen)||D||Pereyra (Juventus)||M|
|Camigliano (Brescia)||D||Rovini (Empoli)||A|
|Faraoni (Watford)||D||Beleck (Fiorentina)||A|
|Piris (Deportivo Maldonado)||D|