After being eliminated from the Champions League and losing three straight to Juventus, Udinese and Parma in horrifying style, Seedorf was at the centre of another reported Milan “summit” – one of many so far this season – where the rookie coach was reportedly given a simple message: improve.
Among this, Seedorf also met with leading members of the Milan Curva, where he reportedly told the Ultras he’d like to get rid of around 75 percent of the squad. I mean, who wouldn’t? That has since been strenuously denied by both the coach and the fans, but if Seedorf had made such a claim he wouldn’t be far off in his estimation and in fact, I think he was being rather generous.
Either way, Seedorf was on the precipice of being another scapegoat for this failed Milan season, another distraction from the unraveling of a once great organisation behind the scenes.
He, and the squad responded in kind with a week that brought three games, two wins and seven points.
The first, against Lazio was a continuation of the sorry stereotype this Milan team’s style has unfortunately attracted; absent, shapeless football rescued by a Kaka deflection that saved a point for the Rossoneri. Other than that, there wasn’t a single shot on goal.
The following match against Fiorentina saw a different Milan side take to the field, at least mentally. Despite dominating possession, Fiorentina came second to Milan in terms of chances created as the Rossoneri tested the shaky Viola backline all game. They were rewarded with two sparks from Balotelli – the first a low free kick, the rebound of which was gratefully bundled home by Philipe Mexes and the second another set-piece, this one curving over the wall into the back of the net. Two goals, three points.
The win against Chievo at the weekend represented the brief renaissance perfectly; it was the butterfly emerging from the cocoon of weeks gone past. Albeit against lonely Chievo, Milan comfortably stroked the ball around, chased loose balls and created meaningful scoring opportunities; a mirror image of the side seen in Rome a week earlier.
Although the talent in Milan’s ranks is not what it was, any team in the world is noticeably better when lethargic and sluggish movements are replaced incisive and aggressive ones.
The Rossoneri’s trio of Adel Taarabt, Kaka and Keisuke Honda stretched and tested the Verona side’s back line and had Honda maintained his cool, the match could have ended with four. The Japanese midfielder probably had his best game for Milan in Serie A since his arrival, being a interesting outlet on the right wing and providing a sumptuous lob for Kaka’s first goal in the first half.
As for Kaka, the man admitted it was odd to work with ex-teammate Clarence Seedorf reminded us of the game-changing skill the Brazilian disaplyed regularly when the two were teammates. Driving forward with regularity thanks to an offensively driven, new role in Seedorf’s formation, Kaka’s first came with the midfielder acting as a poacher, timing his run superbly to meet Honda’s chip.
The second was pure fantasy. Picking the ball up following a set-piece that was cleared in his direction, Kaka took a few steps before curling the ball beyond Michael Agazzi in the Chievo net, who could do little but watch the ball sail into his far corner.
It was Kaka’s 300th appearance for Milan, a game that was his 104th in all competitions to match. Once again, the former Ballon D’or winner showed the talent still present in the 31-year-old’s feet. One wonders that without his Real Madrid move, how much higher Kaka would’ve been in the annals of Milan’s great scorers and heroes.
Hypotheticals aside, Kaka was the hero of Milan’s match against Chievo and maybe even of Clarence Seedorf’s early coaching career. Seedorf showed that with the right attitude, this Milan can win games. With time and the opportunity to bring in a few players that he’d like to coach, maybe Seedorf can still be the right man.