Udinese 2022-23 preview: Sottil hopes to build in Friuli

After a 12th-place finish and their best points tally in nine years, Susy Campanale hopes the arrival of new coach Andrea Sottil can begin to create a sense of stability at the Dacia Arena.

In recent years, Udinese fans have become increasingly frustrated with owners the Pozzo family, feeling they put more of their focus and resources into Watford.

Following that relegation from the Premier League, the Friulani are again their highest-profile club, but are still ultimately a scouting and selling side content with mid-table safety. The days of qualifying for Europe seem to be gone, as there’s a distinct lack of stability.

Last season coach Luca Gotti was fired in December and replaced by his assistant Gabriele Cioffi, who in turn has now moved on to Verona. In comes Andrea Sottil, a former defender who is still beloved in these parts, but in his first ever Serie A management role.

As ever, the big names have been sold at huge profits, like Nahuel Molina’s move to Atletico Madrid, while few expect Gerard Deulofeu or Destiny Udogie to hang around for long.

At least Nehuen Perez made his loan move permanent and Roberto Pereyra should be more of a key figure after shaking off his injury woes, but the target remains Serie A survival and little else.

Key man: Gerard Deulofeu

The Spaniard has found a new lease of life in Udine and had seemed for much of the summer close to a Napoli move.

It would be a huge loss as the 28-year-old scored 13 goals in 34 Serie A appearances last season, and is one of the few truly exciting figures in the squad who can create something out of nothing and get the fans on their feet. Either as a centre-forward or in a supporting role for Beto, Deulofeu is the creative spark.

Coach: Andrea Sottil

The 48-year-old jumped at the chance to not only take on his first Serie A management role, but to do it at Udinese, where he played from 1999 to 2003, helping them win the Intertoto Cup and qualify for the UEFA Cup.

His coaching career has been spent largely in the lower leagues, though made a big impression at Ascoli, taking them from penultimate in Serie B to reaching the promotion play-offs the next term. Although he largely played with 4-3-1-2 formation, Sottil is inheriting a 3-5-2 side and probably won’t stray too far from that formula.

Watch out for: A rough end to the season

Udinese had better hope they’ve got safety all sewn up early because their fixture list in the closing rounds is not kind. The last six games will include clashes with Napoli, Fiorentina, Lazio and Juventus, along with potential relegation tussles with Sampdoria and Salernitana.

Get the full 2022-23 Serie A season preview here.

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