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Clarence Seedorf Feels That It Is His “Duty” To Help His Former Side, Now He Needs To Be Given The Time To Do So

Clarence Seedorf

On 13 January, while much of the footballing world was focused in on the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, rapid changes were taking place in Italy’s fashion capital. Following their 4-3 capitulation at the hands of a Sassuolo outfit spearheaded by 19-year-old Domenico Berardi, Milan opted to part ways with coach Massimiliano Allegri and immediately moved to place former Rossoneri midfielder Clarence Seedorf in charge.

It was a long time coming. Allegri had the look of a man who knew his days were numbered, and despite growing reports that he would be out the door this past summer, he was given the full backing of owner Silvio Berlusconi in what was supposed to be a continued rebuilding phase after the turbulence of last season. But instead of moving forward, the side appeared to have taken multiple steps back: the Diavolo only managed to muster up their first away win in the league on 1 December against a Catania outfit firmly rooted in the bottom of the table.

And they did not appear any more convincing in their continental campaign–registering two wins against Celtic but were fortunate that an Ajax side that despite having strength in numbers was unable to capitalize on this during match day six in the group stages.

As for Seedorf, the former Dutch international and four-time Champions League winner had long been touted as a solution to take over on the Rossoneri bench; however, his appointment mid-way through the season reeks more of desperation, like a stop-loss decision rather than something that was carefully planned and executed. While the newly retired player nicknamed “the Professor” due to his aptitude for languages and well-spoken nature in interviews, has won pretty much everything there is to win as a player, he has zilch coaching experience—whether it is in the amateur leagues, youth system, et al.

Then again, given the dire situation facing the club—with just a dismal five wins from 19 games played, their 22 points seeing them just an uncomfortable six away from the relegation zone and an insurmountable 20 behind third-placed Napoli—now might just be the time to throw all caution to the wind and try out something new. After all, as is said in the film Fight Club, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything”.

It is also from that same 90’s film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton that the quote, “Only after disaster can we be resurrected” comes from. Last year was supposed to be the team’s so-called “year zero”, a period in which they had hit rock bottom and were supposed to be only moving up. Obviously the rebuilding process is going to take a lot longer than people had anticipated and the primary focus will be rallying the troops to help them salvage what has been an utter miserably failure of a season.

As a player, especially one that donned the famed red-and-black jersey for a decade Seedorf will certainly understand what this will feel like.

The man who twice lifted the Champions League trophy with the Rossoneri was a part of the team that went from soaring heights following their 2007 revenge and triumph over Liverpool—whom had beaten them two years prior—to crashing out of the continent’s premier competition in the first knockout rounds at the hands of Arsenal the following season. To make matters worse, the squad failed to qualify for the next year’s edition thanks to Fiorentina beating them out to the fourth place spot during the 2008-2009 term—for the first time since the 2001-2002 season.

Now the situation currently facing the team is obviously a lot direr than back them as they are currently sitting in the bottom half of the table. However whilst the Scudetto and Champions League football are certainly both a pipe dream, they are just ten behind their city rivals who presently occupy fifth place and a Europa League, ahead of surprise package Verona on goal difference. Ten points may seem like a lot, but string together a series of positive results and suddenly a team is hauling itself up that league table.

After all, it was around this time last year that Milan went on a 14-game unbeaten streak that was only halted by Juventus on match-day 33, which saw them move from seventh into third place.

And theoretically, once one has done something before, it can be done again. While it may seem unthinkable for a club of Milan’s caliber to be even contemplating playing in Europe’s second-tier competition, they have to start from somewhere. Just look at the case of Chelsea, who went from winning the trophy in 2012, beating the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich to becoming the first reigning champion to bow out in the group stages.

As we all know, the Blues went on to win the Europa League, and it is certain that it is something that their supporters initially were not too keen on, but the end of the day, silverware is silverware—something is always better than nothing. Moreover, the team, on paper, at least, is still in the running to win the Coppa Italia, having beaten Spezia 3-1 earlier this week.

What Clarence Seedorf lacks in managerial experience and know-how he can certainly compensate for with passion as well as a clear understanding and love for the club he called home for ten seasons. And with the organization offering him a contract until June 2016, the Rossoneri hierarchy obviously has put their faith in him to revitalize the team and get them back on track.

“I felt that it was my duty”, the 37-year-old told reporters after it was announced he would be taking over the reins at his former club. “Milan have suffered too much, and the idea is to bring back the cycle of success.”

Realistic, yet pragmatic and honest at the same time. Let’s hope he is given some time to do just that.