Clarence Seedorf arrives back at Milan with a reputation as a consummate professional, a man who enjoyed a remarkable playing career which saw him lift no fewer than four Champions League titles with three different clubs.
His on-field experiences with Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan make him one of the most admired midfielders of his generation, but it is unclear how that will translate to the bench as he embarks on a coaching career.
The Dutchman lacks the requisite license to lead the Rossoneri and has needed to secure special dispensation from UEFA to accept the role, yet all the badges and qualifications failed to help Massimiliano Allegri succeed.
The following pages focus on what Seedorf needs to do in order to improve upon the failings of his predecessor.
Use the Right Tactics for the Players at His Disposal
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One constant feature of Allegri’s Milan was the selection of players in the incorrect position. From fielding Kevin-Prince Boateng as a trequartista, to using Urby Emanuelson as a left-back, the coach’s selections left fans scratching their heads on a weekly basis.
A major problem was his insistence on employing a formation which did not suit the squad, compelling him to regularly attempt to force square pegs into round holes.
As such, it was a blessed relief for Rossoneri supporters to see Seedorf switch immediately to a 4-2-3-1 framework for Sunday’s win over Hellas Verona, as the shape suits Milan better than most of the previous alternatives.
With Stephan El Shaarawy and Ignazio Abate yet to return, that can only continue.
Find a Compatible Pairing in Central Defence
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The heart of the back-line was once the feature which typified everything good about Milan, from Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta, through to Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta.
Where previously there were legends of the game, the Rossoneri have now become all too used to being embarrassed. Daniele Bonera and Cristian Zapata were destroyed by Domenico Berardi in what proved to be Allegri’s final match in charge, and solving this problem will be vital for Seedorf.
Besides those two players, he can call upon Matias Silvestre, as well as French duo Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami. Between the five defenders, the new coach will hope to discover two who can gel together and improve upon the team’s woeful defensive record.
Connect with Mario Balotelli
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Why always him? Simply put, Mario Balotelli is the best player at Milan and is likely to remain so for quite some time. The 23-year-old striker has already carried the Rossoneri for some time, and that pressure can only lead to the episodes for which the former Manchester City star is now infamous.
Cesare Prandelli—who would have been perhaps the ideal candidate to lead Milan—has shown with the Italian national team just how good Balotelli can be in the right environment, and Seedorf must look to repeat the Azzurri chief’s success.
They got off to the best possible start in their first outing, and Milan fans everywhere will hope this is only the beginning.
Stop Using the Poor Players (and Hopefully See Them Sold)
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Allegri’s love of Kevin Constant, Sulley Muntari and Antonio Nocerino was one of the reasons he was so ridiculed over the past 18 months.
That must not continue with Seedorf, who has the players available to never field that trio—and a number of other similarly subpar performers—in the future, which should tip Milan’s hand and see them move on.
This will be a good source of revenue for the club and could in turn lead to some more suitable arrivals, all of which will help Seedorf to…
Win over Some Hugely Skeptical Supporters
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The hardcore fan base often stood behind Allegri, even when incredible evidence pointed to his failing regime at the club.
It will not be easy for the new coach to receive the same support. As The Guardian reported this weekend, the Curva Sud Ultras hung a banner outside Milan HQ bearing the phrase, “Seedorf, no thanks!”
This follows statements labeling Seedorf as "arrogant" during his playing career and continues from an open letter by the group (per Football Italia) back in May which again championed Allegri.