Former Holland midfielder Clarence Seedorf is poised to take over as manager at A.C. Milan following the sacking of Massimiliano Allegri but will have to thank Pep Guardia for making it happen. The Bayern Munich boss paved the way for this type of appointment when Barcelona chose him over a variety of more experienced candidates. Up until that point, Europe’s biggest clubs had been reluctant to place their faith and future of the club in the hands of an untried and untested manager. Pep, who had only coached at B team level before being trusted into the limelight, was a revelation leading Barcelona to its most successful period in the clubs history. He opened the door to the thinking that appointing a former player who already knows the club intimately and has fresh prospective and new ideas could be a masterstroke move by any chairman or owner. Pep brought passion back to the club as well as a new approach- one that focused on data and analysis in preparation for matches. His approach was not new but has been widely embraced as the future of football management.
Man’s appointment of Seedorf ahead of Filippo Inzaghi may surprise a few but no one bar the legendary Paolo Maldini has bled more for the club in the last ten years than he has. For 10 years between 2002 and 2012, Seedorf bossed the Milan midfield and become a legend in the process. During that time, he help Milan to two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, two Supercoppa Italia, two Champions League titles, a Super Cup and a World Club Cup. An impressive haul for a player who has had the type of career that most players dream of. Success at Milan followed on from similar successful spells at Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan with Seedorf deep at the heart of everything. He holds the record of being the only player in history to win the Champions League with three different clubs (Ajax, Madrid and Milan) and is now Milan’s record holder for appearances by a foreign player. When he finally departed for a new challenge in Brazil with Botafogo, Milan’s club CEO Adriano Galliani spoke of Seedorf in the highest regard, stating “When Milan played well, which happened often, each and every time it occurred Seedorf played an amazing match. He is a world class player”. Praise indeed.
Milan are rebuilding their crumbling dynasty one block at a time and wants to replicate the approach that Barca adopted. Appointing Seedorf is the short term plan but they will be looking to Inzaghi in the youth team to eventually step up and hopefully continue the legacy that Seedorf intends to build. Like Guardiola, Seedorf benefits from knowing the club and its players inside out so should be able to hit the ground running at a fair pace. He will use his experiences in Holland, Spain, Italy and Brazil to instill a new way of playing – the Seedorf way.
To say that Seedorf was a just another player for Milan is widely incorrect; he was its heart and soul during his playing days there. Returning now as manager, Milan are hoping his picks up where he left of and can restart the failing heart of this once great club. With Milan sitting in 11th place and out of the Coppa Italia, success this season for Seedorf lies in what he can achieve in the Champions League. Milan travel to Spain to face a rampant Altetico Madrid next month in what will be a difficult task for Seedorf to overcome. But if there is one man who can inspire Milan back to greatest, it is him.