Clarence Seedorf and his new-found mission to save Deportivo La Coruna
It has been a poor, poor season for Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga. For a club that had once had a good time at the very heights of European football, it is surprising to see how low the club has stooped. From winning the La Liga title in the 1999-2000 season, to rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite clubs in the Champions League, the club has witnessed a steady decline.
After suffering another relegation from the Spanish top flight in 2012/13, the club bounced back from the Segunda division last season.
But, any hopes of going on to enjoy the good old days have remained a mere fantasy. In fact, the Branquiazuis have endured a nightmare season in La Liga this term. A run of only 4 wins in 22 matches has ensured the club remains deeply rooted in the relegation zone.
From bad to worse
Former West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel, who was appointed in February 2017, and was able to keep the struggling side in La Liga last season, was sacked in October after a string of poor results.
His last match was a 2-1 defeat to Girona which left the club in 16th place. The board felt it was time to make the hard call in order to save the club’s season. Cristobal Parralo, then coach of Depotivo’s youth team was drafted in to take over until the end of the season.
Unfortunately, Parralo’s appointment has not improved the fortunes of the club as the Galician side has slipped even further down the table in his time. The club now occupies the 18th spot on the table.
With only a win in the last eight games, while conceding fourteen goals in the last three. It became clear that something drastic had to be done. The board made a move for former AC Milan midfield maestro, Clarence Seedorf to take over the reigns. The big question now is: Can the four-time UEFA Champions League winner save the club from the drop this season?
Seedorf comes to Deportivo as a football legend whose success in the game can inspire anyone to do better. But, as has often been seen, a person’s achievements on the pitch is usually not a guarantee of success in the dugout.
If it were, Diego Maradona should have won the World Cup with Argentina. Or maybe at club level, he should be comparable to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. Be that as it may, we’ve seen some fine players replicate their success on the pitch on the sidelines as well.
Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane - Blueprints for success
The likes of Seedorf’s former coach at Milan, Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane, who also understudied the Italian in the Madrid dugout have done it.
No, Seedorf is not tasked with winning the EFA Champions League here, but quite simply, the task of keeping Deportivo in the division is not any less.
Having been handed the top job at Milan in 2014 to kick-start his coaching career, he did not do badly. During his reign, he oversaw the club’s first five-match winning run since 2011 as well as a first Serie A victory in the Milan derby against eternal rivals Inter since 2011.
He took over the club while they were 11th on the table, and led them to an 8th-place finish, barely missing out on UEFA Europa League qualification on goal difference.
That’s an improvement, no matter how small. Who knows where he would have taken the club had he been allowed to continue? The club has seen three managers come and go as a result of poor results since he left.
In July 2016, he became the manager of Chinese League One side Shenzhen F.C. But, he had to leave in December having failed to get the club promoted to the first tier of Chinese football.
He almost took over as the new manager and sporting director of Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, but the deal was cancelled after both parties failed to reach an agreement.
The appointment at Deportivo offers Seedorf the chance to prove himself as a coach. A five-game winning run at Abanca-Riazor will put the club in a position to make an unlikely escape from relegation.
Regardless of when he picks up the wins, if he manages to keep the club in the top flight for another season, he will have proved himself as a top-class coach. But, the question is, can he?