Coppa exit closes a European door for Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesMilan's Coppa Italia drought now stands at 11 years following their exit at the hands of Udinese on Wednesday night at the San Siro.

Having started his reign with a win on Sunday, the magnitude of the job facing Clarence Seedorf would become apparent as Milan fell to a 2-1 loss to Udinese on Wednesday night that eliminated them from the Coppa Italia.

- Report: Milan 1-2 Udinese

While the Champions League appears to be an unattainable objective, given the gap to the top three and the unlikely event of the Rossoneri winning the competition this year, the Europa League appears to be the only thing left to salvage from the season.

However, one route to Europe was closed off with Seedorf's first defeat as coach, as a disappointing performance ultimately resulted in the only possible chance of silverware this season slipping out of his grasp.

There were signs of promise in his opening game, with the tempo and pressing looking like hallmarks of his style of football, as a more progressive Milan appeared to be set to deliver on his promise of making teams fear playing at San Siro.

That failed to materialise on Wednesday, as the atmosphere was gradually swept over with a sense of frustration and anger, a familiar tone for Milan supporters this season, and the performance wasn't too dissimilar to those witnessed throughout the year thus far.

The Dutchman wasn't helped with the absence of invention in midfield, while the collective defensive work of the team was again brought into question as they appeared vulnerable to the counter-attack and were too soft through the centre.

Seedorf insisted that the players and club must stay calm, as a single victory does not change anything and "miracles don't exist".

The fundamental issues with this squad were evident again, and that is perhaps something out of the coach's power moving forward, unless he decides to address it in the January transfer window, or waits patiently until the summer when the rebuilding will really begin.

The Rossoneri are just seven points adrift of city rivals Inter, who occupy fifth place in the league table, and with it, the last European place.

While that is undoubtedly within their reach still depending on whether or not they are able to put this result behind them, the question must then be asked if it would even be worthwhile for them to be involved in the Europa League.

Like Roma, Napoli and Juventus before them, there is a blueprint to suggest that in order to rebuild and start a new project, the lack of any distractions away from the league can be of benefit.

Seedorf continuously resorted back to this idea in his post-game interview, where he insisted that it would take time to build his project and a new type of football, while it would also take patience to be consistent in this approach.

Unfortunately for the 37-year-old, he may not be afforded such luxuries outside of the club's management, as the supporters rightfully demand the best from a club which has set the standards so high for so long.

Wednesday night's defeat was undoubtedly a disappointment, but as Seedorf alluded to after the game, this new Milan isn't going to be built in a day.

What is your reaction to the defeat to Udinese? Confident that with time things will improve?

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


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