Udinese have opted to move on from Igor Tudor, who had led the team in the final four games of the season, and have appointed Julio Velazquez, who has signed a three-year contract. The 37-year-old will be the first Serie A coach in history born after 1980 and is likely to be only foreign one next season.
Tudor had taken over after the bizarre tenure of Massimo Oddo, who had put together a lengthy winning streak in the Winter but then suffered 11 losses in a row, which prompted the inevitable firing. Tudor drew with Benevento, was soundly defeated by Inter and then prevailed against Verona and Bologna, collecting six points that put them out of harm’s way.
Velazquez so far has coached mostly in La Liga 2, where, after few years in various youth systems, he managed Villarreal, Real Murcia, Betis and most recently Alcorcon. He was fired mid-season by both El Submarino Amarillo and the Sevilla-based club, while his best result was with Los Pimenteros in 2014, when he finished fourth. After the experience with Los Lobos, he moved to Portugal, to Belenenses in particular, for about ten months. He returned to Spain to coach Los Alfareros from mid-October and they closed the season in 13th position, four points clear of the relegation race.
It is certainly a gamble by the Pozzo family, who, however, has an history of trusting young coaches. Velazquez follows the Spanish school of football, based on ball possession and collective play. He prefers 4-3-3, but they would have to tweak the roster to use that because they do not have many wing players. Udinese have a decent squad, but some of their most interesting prospects, such as Antonin Barak, Jakub Jankto, Rodrigo De Paul, Samir, Ali Adnan and Andrija Balic have not had great consistency despite showing flashes of talent.
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