Seedorf cant relax at Milan
27 March 2014, 17:09
Milan - AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf was a relieved man after his side beat Fiorentina on Wednesday, clearly believing he had survived his first severe test and could enjoy the rest of the season.
Recent experience at the turbulent club, however, suggests that the Dutchman may have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Milan host lowly Chievo in Serie A on Saturday (1945) and it would only take another of the disjointed performances that have been so common this season to plunge the seven-times European champions and their inexperienced coach back into crisis.
Seedorf's predecessor Massimiliano Allegri, who won the Serie A title in his first season in charge, spent the last 18 months of his reign almost constantly battling speculation over his future.
The speculation would subside when Milan won - only to return with a vengeance with the next defeat as his side lurched from crisis to crisis.
Allegri seemed to have finally put the matter to bed when he said at Christmas that he would leave the club at the end of this season, a decision most critics agreed was the sensible one. But not even that saved him and he was fired less than one month later after a 4-3 defeat at lowly Sassuolo.
Seedorf was widely reported to have been given two games, Sunday's visit to Lazio and Wednesday's game at Fiorentina, to sort out the latest mess or face the axe after only two months in charge. His side responded with a 1-1 draw and 2-0 win.
"The team really did well over the last few days to react with two positive results," said Seedorf. "I'm very happy for the group of players for what they did against Lazio and Fiorentina, two teams that are tough to face.
"Let's hope that this result will be the start of some continuity in terms of results."
Allegri often expressed similar sentiments after wins only to find he had woken to another false dawn.
Milan's fortunes appear to rise and drop with the form of maverick striker Mario Balotelli, who on Wednesday enjoyed one of his good days as he set up one goal and scored the second.
"I asked Mario for intensity and, in that sense, he had a great game," said Seedorf. "We already knew he had talent and could take free kicks like that, but I was most impressed by his consistency and intensity."
Yet, even on a good night, Balotelli got himself embroiled in controversy as he complained about the referee.
"The person who provoked me most in the field was honestly the referee," he told a television touchline reporter.
"There was no dialogue with the referee. I got booked for telling him that an opponent had touched the ball with their hand.
"He warned me that I talked too much. I will talk a lot, but you can also have a dialogue."
Runaway leaders Juventus, who are 14 points clear, are away to third-placed Napoli on Sunday without striker and Serie A topscorer Carlos Tevez, suspended on accumulated yellow cards.
Napoli, who are in the Champions League playoff spot, have a 10-point cushion over Fiorentina and still believe they can pip AS Roma for second place, which would take them directly to the group stage.
Roma visit relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Sunday.
"Our target continues to be targeting Roma in second," said coach Rafael Benitez.
"We have to do our work, continue winning and see where we end up."