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Francesco Guidolin: Swansea’s new head coach in profile

Holly Thackeray | January 18, 2016

Francesco Guidolin to be new Liberty Stadium gaffer?

Former Udinese tactician Francesco Guidolin has been appointed as Swansea City head coach and will work alongside current interim incumbent Alan Curtis until the end of the campaign.

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Among all the names in the hat for this Premier League position, after chairman Huw Jenkins scoured the globe, the appointment of this Italian is somewhat left-field. So, Coral cast an eye over Guidolin’s achievements and experience to ponder what exactly he may bring to the struggling Swans…

Mixed managerial record

Now 60, Guidolin unsurprisingly has a vast amount of experience and history within the Italian game. So, if Swans supporters were a little concerned about Curtis’ lack of nous, the Treviso-born tactician certainly evens that out, and his savvy should help steady a potentially sinking ship.

Though, rather than an escape artist, the ex-Bologna, Hellas Verona and Venezia midfielder is best known (at least in his early managerial career) as a specialist in pushing for promotion. So, should the unthinkable happen just a term after Swansea’s best-ever Premier League finish, Guidolin could be conveniently installed already to help them claw back out of the Championship.

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It all began with then Serie C1 side Ravenna, who Guidolin guided to Serie B back in the early 90s, setting somewhat of a precedent.

Having also steered unfashionable Vicenza into Serie A, to a Coppa Italia trophy and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (where Chelsea fans may remember Gianluca Vialli dumping his compatriots out at the semi-final stage) back in 1998, gaffer Guidolin then went on to cement his reputation as a managerial magician by firing Sicilian side Palermo to the top-tier after a 35-year absence; also finishing on a high note with UEFA Cup qualification.

His career has been far from all roses, however, with poor pit stops at Udinese (the first time), Bologna, again at Palermo and abroad with French Principality club Monaco.

Though, having impressed by promoting Parma, Guidolin once more grabbed the coveted Udinese position for which he is perhaps most famous. This is the part that should also excite Swans-leaning readers, as the buoyed boss herded his Little Zebras to remarkable fourth and third (a joint best-ever club ranking) finishes in Serie A, as well as qualifying for Champions League football, while playing compact but exciting football along the way.

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So, the question is, does bigwig Jenkins have one eye on a relegation back-up plan already with this intriguing installation? Swansea are, after all, currently priced at 6/5 with Coral to drop down to the English second-tier.

Italian influence

In a rather curious connection, the Italian coach has most recently been working behind the scenes since leaving Serie A in 2014, working closely with stagnant Swansea’s upcoming opponents Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, in an advisory capacity for their three teams the Hornets, Udinese and Granada.

Could these links pay off for the Welsh club? Aside from knowing their next foes inside-out, in a rather well-timed move, it is interesting how this manoeuvre comes not long after the Swans were linked to a £16m, but ultimately rejected, swoop for Napoli net threat Manolo Gabbiadini.

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Of course, the Liberty Stadium side have done deals with the Little Donkeys before, as former marksman Michu and Dutch midfielder Jonathan de Guzman have, or are tipped to in the latter’s case, gone back and forth between the two. Perhaps Guidolin’s Italian influence and Pozzo relations could now sweeten future negotiations in Serie A, or even La Liga, however, as Swansea really need to strengthen their strike force.

Attacking impetus

Canny Guidolin has managed some top talent in his time, notably extracting star showings from some fledgling forwards during his career.

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After coaching Luca Toni in, or perhaps to, his pomp with Palermo, as the Rosanero talisman struck 40 in 57 under his guidance, Guidolin is also lauded for helping develop now Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez into much more of an all-rounder when at Udinese, with the Chilean his most unpredictable and raw at Stadio Fruili.

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Italian football cult hero Antonio Di Natale was also at his most ferocious during Guidolin’s time in charge of that exciting Udine outfit, so the Swans should be optimistic about his now working with the likes of Andre Ayew, Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis. Can he spark their stuttering attack into survival, or is he purely at the Liberty for damage limitation? Only time will tell.

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