AC Milan and Seedorf showing signs of life
In discussing AC Milan’s recent run of results, one could use the much overused cliché ‘they’re beating the teams put in front of them’ to describe their last five matches.
That cliché holds true for the most part, though it is easy to conclude Milan are on a mini-revival. But breaking down that run of games, four of the five teams Milan played are currently below thirteenth place with Fiorentina the exception.
Meanwhile, both Catania and Livorno are mired in the relegation zone; and both may very well be set for football in Serie B next season. During Milan’s current five game stretch the Viola are the only one of the clubs with more wins than losses or draws this term. But Fiorentina are not flawed as the Florence club were suppose to challenge Juventus for the Scudetto this term. That challenge has become a fourth place showing, though it has left numerous writers and pundits that chose them as Scudetto-holders elect last summer with egg on their faces.
The Rossoneri’s six match run of five wins and a draw have the team sitting second in the form table. While four of those five wins came against clubs fifteenth or lower in that same department. Regardless of the form table, it is the club’s longest streak of games without a loss in 2013/14 and it could be the catalyst to the team qualifying for the Europa League. Though Milan will travel to Roma next weekend before hosting Inter in the Derby della Madonnina the week after.
With Milan soaring at the moment, it looks more likely Clarence Seedorf will get to begin next season with the Rossoneri, or does it? According to a report last week, Seedorf could be dismissed from the job as the club’s hierarchy are not quite as sure about the Dutchman as when he took over the position in January. The two parties have already agreed a severance package if and when Seedorf is sacked, which is not too positive a sign and shows the lack of trust Milan have of their recent coaches.
Now that Cesare Prandelli has signed a two-year contract extension with the Azzurri, Milan’s choice for 2014/15 may have been made for them. Prandelli’s decision to stay with the national team could help keep Seedorf in the Milan job. The Rossoneri could turn to Parma’s Roberto Donadoni if a new coach is needed next summer, however. Right now, however, Filippo Inzaghi is the most likely choice following his success with Milan’s Primavera side.
There is no doubt Seedorf has improved the team since taking over the reigns in mid-January. Seedorf’s Milan have tallied 24 points from a possible 42. That is two points better than previous coach Massimiliano Allegri did in his 19 matches in Serie A earlier this campaign.
Seedorf’s man management seems to be better than that of Allegri’s, and his players seem to support him. Interestingly, despite Milan’s shortcomings as a team on and off the pitch, fans are willing to give Seedorf the benefit of the doubt unlike the board. Both Seedorf and Allegri had very little to work with this season – and last season for Allegri – yet Seedorf is getting that little bit extra from his players, giving supporters more hope for the future.
“The results are important and the good work done by the team has brought us out of a negative period. Now we want to extend our winning streak,” Seedorf recently said.
“We’re pushing for a place in the Europa League, but as sportsmen we always want to go further.”
While the team have come alive in the last five matches, Milan has also seen star striker Mario Balotelli once again become an integral part of the team. Balotelli has tallied three goals and two assists in the last five games, but looking over the season’s stats, the striker has tallied many of his goals in short spurts. He has experienced dry spells in patches this season as well and whether or not Seedorf has learned to get the best out of the enigmatic striker is up for debate.
Regardless of the coach next season, Milan are in a limbo state that has existed since the sales of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Surely this club is too good to be down for long, but next season will be their first without Champions League football for some time; and as other teams have found, it isn’t easy to get back to the top of the mountain once you fall off.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer