Rossoneri will find it tough to close gap at the top of the table.
With Clarence Seedorf making a winning start to life as AC Milan coach against Hellas Verona on Sunday, the Dutchman must now prioritise the Coppa Italia in order to win silverware this season and secure the Rossoneri’s place in Europe next season.
Since ‘Il Professore‘ returned to the club, there is a renewed optimism within both the hierarchy and players, with Massimiliano Allegri perhaps reaching the natural end to his tenure in charge.
The switch in management has reinvigorated the squad, as Seedorf looks to implement his style of play which involves a more progressive brand of football that requires up-tempo passing and collective pressing high up the pitch.
While he has yet to test himself tactically against some of the best coaches in the world, and there were aspects of his debut as coach that need to be improved, the signs are promising that the Dutchman can restore the joy in both the players and supporters.
This week, Mario Balotelli became the latest player to publicly support the appointment of Seedorf and believes that he can see the same drive and determination in his new coach which he saw in former boss Jose Mourinho.
That is perhaps an exaggeration at this early stage, but it is clear that Seedorf has little time to settle and develop his system as the requirement for results begins straight away.
With Milan still languishing in the bottom half of the Serie A table, it is arguably fundamental that they win the Coppa Italia in order to secure their place in European competition next season.
The race for Champions League football appears to be over given the 18-point gap between themselves and Napoli, and although they will still be confident of progression this year against Atletico Madrid, they are not the strongest team in Europe and could struggle moving forward.
Further, it is also important for Seedorf’s development and confidence as a coach, as immediate silverware could act as a catalyst for future success while his peers would begin to have instant respect for him as he makes the transition from the pitch to the bench.
As a result, it is a full-strength squad where possible for Wednesday’s encounter with Udinese, and while it will provide another interesting insight into what Seedorf is asking of his players from a tactical point of view, he can ill afford to miss out on this opportunity of winning immediate silverware for the club as he looks to help them enter a new cycle of success.
Inter Milan and Juventus have already been eliminated, with a possible semi-final clash against Fiorentina to look forward to, before perhaps Roma or Napoli await in the final.
It’s a competition that the Rossoneri have rarely been successful in in recent years, but that could be about to change as Seedorf looks to make an instant impact for this now sleeping giant of Italian football.