Last chance saloon opens early for Seedorf
20 March 2014, 19:15
Milan - The last chance saloon has opened its doors early for Clarence Seedorf with the beleaguered AC Milan coach seemingly fighting to keep his job after only two months in charge.
Italian media have widely reported that Seedorf has been given two matches, starting with Sunday's visit to Lazio (1945 GMT) followed by a trip to Fiorentina on Wednesday, to turn around Milan's fortunes or face the axe.
Milan have lost seven out of 12 matches since the Dutchman, who spent 10 years of his playing career at the club, was appointed in January for his first coaching job.
Under his leadership, they have been dumped out of the Coppa Italia at home by Udinese and humiliated in the Champions League round of 16 by Atletico Madrid, who beat Milan home and away in a 5-1 aggregate win.
They sit joint 11th in Serie A and, with 12 points separating them from even the Europa League qualification places, seem set to miss out on European football for the first time since the 1998/99 season.
Gazzetta dello Sport and Mediaset have reported that club president Silvio Berlusconi met his daughter Barbara, a club director, and right-hand man Adriano Galliani on Tuesday when it was agreed that Seedorf would be given an ultimatum.
The names of possible replacements are already being bandied about. Assistant coach Mauro Tassotti has been touted to take over until the end of the season with former striker Filippo Inzaghi, currently in charge of the youth team, being appointed on a long-term basis next season.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and former AS Roma and Zenit St Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti have also been mentioned as long-term replacements.
Most critics agree that Seedorf is not to blame for the situation having inherited a team that has failed to recover from the departure of defender Thiago Silva and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012.
Former fullback Paolo Maldini said that he had sensed a decline was about to set in back in 2007 when Milan won the last of their seven European Cup/Champions League titles.
"When we won the Champions League in 2007 I told Galliani that we weren't thinking about being the best in Europe," Maldini told Gazzetta.
"Even then I already knew that without a rebuild a decline would start.
"That was the first step, but the final blow came when we let Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva leave."
Leaders Juventus, 14 points clear at the top, visit bottom club Catania on Sunday as they continue their chase for a third successive title while second-placed Roma are at Chievo on Saturday (1945).
Napoli could take a big step towards guaranteeing a top-three finish if they beat Fiorentina in a meeting of the third and fourth-placed teams.
The two sides are already 10 points apart with Fiorentina having struggled to keep pace following a knee injury to leading scorer Giuseppe Rossi.