Assessing the flaws of Milan’s new system

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Icon SMIClarence Seedorf twice won the Champions League as a Milan player.

Since his appointment as Milan coach in mid-January, Clarence Seedorf has overseen a mixed set of results with two wins, a draw and two defeats in all competitions. Given his lack of experience and the state in which he found the Rossoneri, that is arguably a decent return for the Dutchman. However, where is he potentially going wrong?

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Throughout his tenure thus far, Seedorf doesn't appear to be out of his depth or incapable of managing the squad. The 37-year-old is undoubtedly respected by the players, while former teammates and coaches insist that with time he will be a success.

He appears to make the right in-game decisions with his substitutions and identifies when something isn't perhaps working as he had envisaged: a prime example of this would be Ignazio Abate withdrawing from a more advanced role in the second half against Napoli.

In addition, Seedorf is also not afraid to make what appear to be difficult choices in withdrawing the likes of Mario Balotelli when performing below par, and importantly that is not creating a negative atmosphere within the squad.

However, he is still missing aspects of solidity in defence which will continue to hinder him until the situation is properly addressed. Although there are no guarantees that the club will do so, it might be a matter of improving what is at his disposal as opposed to acquiring new talent.

Speculation this week suggested that Silvio Berlusconi had criticised his specially selected coach with regards to his tactics, and although Adriano Galliani moved quickly to dismiss the story, there could be an element of truth in the rumour.

Particularly against Napoli, it was noticeable that the team appeared to be disjointed, in the sense that without the ball there were too many players not carrying out their defensive duties and ultimately seeing the team overrun and outplayed.

The 4-2-3-1 is arguably designed to control both possession and the tempo of the game, with two defensive midfielders providing protection through the middle while the three-man support for the main striker track the opposition without the ball.

Balotelli has undoubtedly had a difficult week, with his tearful appearance on the bench hopefully changing the media's impression of him. La Gazzetta dello Sport posed the question, "Are we losing Balotelli?" in Tuesday's edition, and perhaps there will now be more support rather than criticism.

Nevertheless, his general nature is to conserve his energy for when he receives the ball, although progressively he has improved in his defensive responsibilities. What Seedorf can't afford though, are players around Balotelli doing the same.

Aside from scoring a goal on his debut, Adel Taarabt was particularly impressive in this aspect, while Robinho was practically non-existent in both areas of the game.

Seedorf has stressed that with patience, his philosophy will change how Milan play as he looks for the team to get closer to the opposition, press high up the pitch and win back possession immediately.

However, they can't allow an already porous defence to be so exposed, particularly if the withdrawn midfield duo is unable to dictate the game.

There are certainly positive aspects of Seedorf's management so far, but moving forward he will have to make important adjustments to ensure the team is more compact.

What have you seen from Seedorf thus far in terms of strengths and weaknesses?

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

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