Qualifying for Europe and developing an abundance of players before selling them for huge profits was a frequent occurrence for Udinese but recently these goals have not been achieved like they used to.
Signs of decline at the Zebrette had become apparent under veteran coach Francesco Guidolin in his final season back in 2013-14 and the club lost on an on-field leader when talismanic striker Antonio Di Natale retired two years later.
Udinese patron Giampaolo Pozzo has tried a plethora of coaches since Guidolin departed the club and none have been able to make the club exceed or even reach expectations. His latest appointment though is puzzling and baffling, to say the least.
The Friulani will be coached in 2018-19 by an unknown called Julio Velazquez, whose last coaching job was with Alcorcon in the second division of his native Spain. In his two seasons with the club from the outskirts of Madrid, he finished no higher than 13th in the league table, but he did reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals with them in 2016-17.
Although this is not his first job abroad having coached Portuguese club Belenenses in 2015-16, his experience coaching overseas or at the highest level is limited. So far, he has predominantly worked with youth teams and lower division teams in his homeland.
This is not the first time an Italian club has hired a foreign tactician by any means but he has arrived in Italy with a lack of pedigree and without a successful track record so he is already taking a massive jump by coaching a Serie A team.
During his press conference upon his appointment, Velazquez spoke about encouraging his team to play in an attacking style and getting results in that manner but it remains to be seen if he is the right man to make the Spanish football philosophy succeed in Serie A.
Although Italian football is becoming more offensive-minded these days thanks to the efforts of tacticians like Maurizio Sarri, Eusebio Di Francesco, and Gian Piero Gasperini, the former Alcorcon coach will still need to be attentive when it comes to the defensive aspects of the game.
He is expected to use the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is not commonly used in Italian football and it would be alien to most of the Udinese players, who are used to the 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 formations.
It is one thing to bring in a foreign coach and introduce different ideas to the ones Serie A players are used to but wouldn’t they have been better off hiring someone with a greater pedigree?
Giampaolo Pozzo might have wanted a cheaper option but he surely could have hired a coach with Serie B or even Serie C experience.
Filippo Inzaghi has since left Venezia for Bologna so he could have been an option worth considering. Then there were others such as Giovanni Stroppa who did well with Foggia before joining Crotone, Fabio Grosso who earnt a chance with Hellas Verona for his work at Bari, former Palermo coach Bruno Tedino, and ex-Empoli boss Vincenzo Vivarini, who might have deserved a chance more than Velazquez.
If the Spaniard fails, then Pozzo needs to have his decision making held to account. If he succeeds, it might make other clubs wonder if Italian conservatism is on its deathbed.
Italian football has seen some fine foreign managers and coaches come into Serie A and succeed such as Nils Liedholm, Cestimir Vycpalek, Zdenek Zeman, Sven-Goran Eriksson, and Heriberto and Helenio Herrera but they had success outside of Italy or they were already familiar with Italian football in some capacity.
Spanish football and tiki-taka has made an impact on world football like the Dutch did with Total Football in the 1970s. Should Udinese have picked a more illustrious Spaniard like Paco Jemez, Juande Ramos, Quique Sanchez Flores, or Juan Manuel Lillo?
Velazquez is 36-years old and he will be the youngest coach in Serie A but his pedigree is very underwhelming. The German Bundesliga has seen young coaches like Domenico Tedesco at Schalke and Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim get their teams into the Champions League and both are under 35-years old but the Spaniard has not come close to emulating them.
This appointment might end up being an inspired choice but, on face value, Udinese are setting themselves up to fail.