Balotelli hands Seedorf debut win

Posted by Sumeet Paul

AP Photo/Luca BrunoClarence Seedorf's managerial debut was a successful one as Milan downed Hellas Verona 1-0 on Sunday at the San Siro.

It wasn't a perfect performance, but nonetheless it was a display with signs of promise which ultimately resulted in a winning start to life as Milan coach for Clarence Seedorf. Mario Balotelli's late penalty secured a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona for the Rossoneri, and victory is the key to building confidence for both the coach and players.

- Report: Milan 1-0 Hellas Verona

Interestingly, the wait to discover what style of football Seedorf would adopt was perhaps the key in this game, and whether or not his 4-2-3-1 system would be a success.

The opening half saw a combination of short, quick passing while also stretching the game, as the entire team also pressed high up the pitch, signalling a move towards an up-tempo and modernised style of play.

In his pre-match press conference, Seedorf emphasised that it was important for his team to restore fear in the opposition of playing at the San Siro. Furthermore, their approach was pivotal in doing this, and his system consistently put pressure on Verona in their own half in the early stages.

While that initial approach slowed as the pace of the game arguably caught up with the players, the next obstacle standing in the Dutchman's way was breaking down a well-organised side.

A mixture of wasteful finishing as well as lapses in concentration ensured that optimism gradually turned into frustration, but with Balotelli scoring and later dedicating his goal to his new coach, there was relief among the supporters who will have left the stadium pleased.

Nevertheless, there are certain aspects of the team's dynamic that will require improvement, and with this system there may also be personnel issues.

Reassuringly, it would appear that there is room for Stephan El Shaarawy to return to the fold when he has recovered from injury, as Robinho, Keisuke Honda and Kaka are too similar in terms of their ability and pace in wide attacking spaces.

Seedorf evidently allowed them to switch roles in order to create space and avoid giving Verona reference points to defend. However, they did struggle at times and it remains to be seen whether or not this is a fundamental issue or one that will develop positively with time.

While Verona did produce goal-scoring opportunities, another positive to take away from the game was the clean sheet as generally speaking, there was a more organised element to Milan's structure.

It has been well documented that the 37-year-old has no previous coaching experience, and so this is also a learning curve for him in the transition to the bench. It would appear he has the backing of the players though, as they understood their individual roles and the tactical requirements as a unit.

Milan's new coach promised progressive and forward-thinking football, and despite having just under a week to apply his philosophy and principles, it appears that he has the players engaged, but will require time to work on sustaining that early tempo while tinkering with certain aspects.

Seedorf revealed that the squad formed a circle in the locker room after the game and it is a ritual that he intends to keep whether they win, lose or draw as they are "all responsible for every result".

The Dutchman acknowledged both the positives and negatives, and insists that things will only improve with time as he looks to help Milan rediscover the joy of playing football.

What did you make of Seedorf's debut as coach?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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