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Is Clarence Seedorf fighting a losing battle at Deportivo La Coruna?

Tuesday 27th February 2018

Clarence Seedorf took over the coaching job at Deportivo La Coruna with the club looking likely to be relegated at the end of the season. Depor has struggled to keep its top-flight status in the past few seasons. A change of managers has done little to solve the problem. It shows the club’s troubles run deeper than meet the eye.

Former manager Pepe Mel managed to keep the club in La Liga last season, finishing 16th in the final standings. But after continuing the struggle this season, he was shown the door in October as the club languished near the bottom of the table. Coincidentally, the club was also occupying the 16th position at the time. The club hierarchy must have thought there is a winning formula after all, why not use it. Zinedine Zidane the manager of the previous season’s title-winning side was brought in from Madrid’s youth team. The club, therefore, appointed Cristobal Parralo to take over the senior side.

Unfortunately, things did not work out as expected for Parralo. He could not help the team climb higher on the table. As a matter of fact, the club’s fortunes worsened under his watch. He was relieved of his duties with the club sitting uncomfortably in 18th place on the table. But by the time the bosses realised that their efforts to replicate Real Madrid's model not going to work, time was already running out. With 16 matches left to play at the time of his sacking whoever was to replace him would have a tough job on their hands.

In came Clarence Seedorf. Surprisingly, the former Ajax, Real Madrid, and AC Milan midfield maestro seemed to relish the “opportunity.” For a club that had won only four matches all season and could hardly keep a clean sheet, it was clear relegation to the Segunda division was only a matter of time. But the former AC Milan manager who also coached Chinese side Shenzhen in 2016 believed he could salvage the situation. Speaking after his appointment, the former Netherland international stated:

I can help the club and the club can help me. I like to take on challenges. It would be easy to go to a place where everything is working well.”

The biggest problem the 41-year old has is the fact that he has no experience keeping a relegation-threatened team in the league. For a manager still at the early stages of his career, Seedorf needs a club he can easily mould into a side that can play his brand of football. He has usually taken over clubs at critical periods where the damage seemed to have already been done. While he was able to take the AC Milan from 11th position when he took over to 8th position at the end of the season, he wasn’t so lucky at Shenzhen. He was expected to get the club promoted to the Chinese Super League. He could not and had to leave.

At Depor, it’s a similar task in difficulty. This time around, he is expected to keep the team in the top flight. But the odds are stacked against him. The team is low on confidence and need both motivation and self-belief. So far even the usual new manager boost has not helped the team pick up even a draw. Under Seedorf, the Galician side has played three matches and come away with a single point from the nine available. A 1-0 loss to Real Betis at home marked the beginning of his tenure. The team lost again away to CD Alaves by the same margin in his second game in charge. The third was a goalless draw against Espanyol at home. The team has failed to score a goal even from the penalty spot. The next four matches against Getafe, Eibar, Girona, and Las Palmas are all winnable games. A failure to pick at least six points from the available 12 and the Branquiazuis may kiss La Liga goodbye.

Or maybe the club will depend on new signings 34-year-old Michael Krohn-Dehli and 33-year-old Sulley Muntari to bail it out. But whether Seedorf has the wherewithal to steer the team away from the dreaded drop is highly unlikely, at least from the standpoint of his most recent job. A manager is as good as his last result, after all.

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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