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Clarence Seedorf: All-time great heading to Estadio Riazor dugout

Wednesday 7th February 2018

Deportivo La Coruna has fallen a long way from its 1990s/early 2000s heyday, when it won a La Liga title, two Copa del Reys, and reached the semi-final in both the Champions League and now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup. At the time, the Galician side was more than capable of going head to head with Europe's finest. Nowadays, the main target is to avoid relegation to the Segunda on an annual basis. Depor were unable to meet even that modest target on two occasions, suffering relegation in 2010/11 and 2012/13. On both occasions, the club bounced right back into the top flight. 

Once again, the Branquiazuis find themselves in a relegation battle. Following a run with one win in seven, they are currently 18th. The torrid spell put an end to Cristobal Parralo's short tenure in charge. He had only taken over the job in late October, when Pepe Mel was fired. For the second time this season, Depor was looking for a new manager. The board moved quickly to appoint none other than Dutch legend, Clarence Seedorf. 

As a player, Seedorf was world class. Throughout his 22-year professional career, he played for the biggest clubs and enjoyed huge success. To start, he won two Eredivisie titles, a KNVB Cup, and a Champions League title with Ajax. A quiet season at Sampdoria preceded a 1996 move to Real Madrid. La Liga, Champions League, and Intercontinental Cup victories came to him at the Santiago Bernabeu. In 1999 he returned to Serie A. Two-and-a-half years were spent with Inter, whereupon he switched San Siro dressing rooms to star for Milan. 

Finally, Seedorf had found his long term home. He would spend ten years with Milan. During his time with the Rossoneri, he won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, and a FIFA World Club Cup. The two Champions League titles took his total to four and made him the first, and to this day only, man to win the Champions League with three different clubs. After his decade with Milan, he decided to try something completely different. Monty Python had disbanded, so he moved to Brazil to represent Botafogo. 

Seedorf enjoyed two years in Brazil. He was set to stay longer when he was approached by Milan to take over as manager in January 2014. It was too big an opportunity to refuse. The Dutchman announced his playing retirement with immediate effect and accepted the task of trying to turn things around at San Siro. When Seedorf arrived, Milan were 11th, and really struggling. He managed to do quite a good job steering them back to eighth place, only missing a Europa League place on goal difference.

Unfortunately, Seedorf was released at season's end. The board had decided to appoint Filippo Inzaghi. The decision was a little bit harsh when you consider Seedorf's Milan had picked up 35 points in 19 games, fourth best in Serie A during his reign. Since departing the Rossoneri, Seedorf spent a short period overseeing Chinese side, Shenzhen. He also appeared set to take the Atletico Paranaense job, last month, before the deal fell apart at a very late stage.

While Deportivo have been quite poor this season, they do have a few players good enough to help the team out of trouble. Lucas Perez (above), Florin Andone, Fede Cartabia, Adrian Lopez, Celso Borges and Fabian Schar are all more than capable of raising their game. If the Depor board sought a manager who could draw form and talent from a squad, Seedorf seems an excellent choice. Teams don't always need a sublime tactician. Frequently a motivator is made to order. If Clarence Seedorf can't inspire Deportivo's players, there clearly isn't anyone who can.

As it stands, Depor is three points behind 17th place Levante, five poorer than Alaves in 16th. Beyond those two, the gap is eight points to Espanyol. The bottom clubs are being cut adrift. The Blue and Whites must win games games to lift themselves out of danger and draw other clubs into the dogfight.

The upcoming run of seven fixtures features none against the top six clubs. New bosses often enjoy a honeymoon period. Seedorf's best chance is to hit the ground running. If he can, Deportivo de la Coruna might stave off relegation for a fourth straight season. It isn't a title but it would be victory nonetheless.

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.

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