As as we found out on Tuesday, Francesco Guidolin has left Parma for Udinese to replace outgoing Zebrette coach Pasquale Marino. It was really a guarantee that Marino’s time in Udine would come to an end once the 2009/10 season reached its climax. What was not a guarantee however, was who his replacement was going to be. Whilst it is a surprise that Guidolin has left la Gialloblu for Udinese, it is also an intelligent move from the former Palermo tactician.
Realistically, he has achieved what was required with Parma. When he took charge of la Crociate in September of 2008 the club had recently been relegated from Serie A and were in desperate need of some new direction. The task was a difficult one – rejuvenating a team that had struggled under Luigi Cagni. However, the objective was pretty simple – take the club back into Serie A. He achieved that goal, quickly and with minimal fuss at the first attempt guiding the team to a runners up position in Italy’s second tier, thus earning them automatic promotion. Infact, he went one step further, not only did he ensure Parma didn’t hang around in Serie B for too long. He also guided them through a steady and stable first season back in the big time, conducting them to eight position. So, as far as la Ducali goes, it is certainly a job very well done by Guidolin and that is the reason this writer believes Guidolin is moving onto pastures new, it’s simply mission accomplished at the Ennio Tardini – time for a new challenge.
So why the Stadio Friuli and Udinese for Guidolin? In reality he is departing a team that have just comfortably finished in the top half of Serie A, for a team that struggled in the lower reaches of the division throughout the 2009/10 campaign. You do have to scratch the surface a little to understand the logic of this move. Whilst Parma have perhaps just enjoyed a season of overachievement, based on the quality of players at their disposal, la Zebrette have certainly just endured a season of immense underachievement. Whilst the managerial merry-go-round involving Pasquale Marino and Gianni Di Biasi certainly ensured a continued disruption of Udinese’s campaign, a team boasting the sheer goal scoring brilliance of Antonio Di Natale should not have found themselves languishing in the lower reaches of the table. Yes, la Bianconeri do boast a talented squad, obviously the exploits of Di Natale cannot go unmentioned, but they have other players to rival the quality of the Italian international. Take for example tough tackling Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler, or pacy Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez. These are the types of players that will have attracted Guidolin to Udine. He will believe that should he keep a hold of talents like Di Natale in the summer, then he could certainly ensure a better season next time around for la Zebrette. Maybe even a tilt at the European places, which in Italy this season have been fiercely fought over by several teams, and with better management, that could have been a scrap involving Udinese.
Francesco Guidolin may have unfinished business with Udinese also, after he had a spell with the team from north-eastern Italy in the late 1990s. He guided them to a mid-table finish in the 1998/99 campaign, but was dismissed from his position as coach days before the beginning of the following season. Perhaps his relative inexperience at that time ensured it was only a short stay first time round from Guidolin. He will be hoping his second stay in Udine will prove longer and more fruitful. He has certainly been around the block a few times since departing Udinese in the 90’s. Since that point he has had notable spells in charge of both Bologna and more recently, and perhaps successfully Palermo, where he guided la Rosanero to fifth, which as of today is their highest ever Serie A finish.
A new challenge then, seemingly being the main reason for Francesco Guidolin’s switch from Parma to Udinese. The challenge being rejuvenating a talented but struggling la Zebrette. It is a challenge he will fancy certainly, having had previous success in Serie A with both Bologna and Palermo. He will, no doubt, be looking to return Udinese to European action, something fans of la Bianconeri were coming rather accustomed to, as it was not so long ago in which they were regularly competing in Europe’s top club competitions. Obviously keeping hold of the likes of Di Natale, Inler and Sanchez will be crucial to Guidolin’s ambitions, as they possess the kind of quality required to compete at the top end of Italy’s Serie A. Persuading these types of players to stay at the Friuli may be difficult but if Guidolin can manage it, and he can bring some fresh faces to Udinese, he may well have the makings of a team that could challenge for a European spot in the upcoming 2010/11 season.