Seedorf underlines Milan challenge ahead
Clarence Seedorf said there is "a lot to do" if he is to hoist AC Milan back to the heights of European and domestic football after he arrived in Italy on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old former Dutch international midfielder announced on Tuesday that he is to take over as coach of Milan, a day after the seven-time European champions sacked Massimiliano Allegri in the wake of a shock weekend loss to Serie A strugglers Sassuolo.
Seedorf, the first man to win the Champions League with three different clubs after stellar spells with Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan, has spent the past 18 months with Botafogo in Brazil.
He arrived at Milan's San Siro ground on Wednesday evening to meet the players in time to see a 3-1 Italian Cup win over La Spezia.
After Sunday's reverse, Milan sit 11th in the Serie A table, 30 points behind leaders Juventus and 20 behind Napoli, who occupy the third and last qualifying spot for the Champions League.
Seedorf, who was mobbed by waiting media at Milan's Linate airport after his flight from Brazil, told the in-house Milan Channel: "There's a lot to do to hoist Milan back to the top."
But he reassured the club's desperate fans by adding: "I can't really call this a comeback, because I never really went away."
Seedorf's arrival has been warmly welcomed by all at the club, including caretaker coach Mauro Tassotti, although the Italian was not alone in underlining Seedorf's lack of top level coaching experience.
The Dutchman, who is only in possesion of a UEFA 'A' Licence, has been given special dispensation ahead of obtaining the UEFA Pro Licence that would normally have allowed him to coach at the top level.
Fellow Dutchmen and former Rossoneri Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit both seemed sceptical about the appointment.
"It's a risk. We have to wait and see how Seedorf adapts," said Van Basten, considered one of Milan's greatest players before going on to coach the Dutch national team, Ajax and then current club Heerenveen.
"I don't think it's wise but that decision is not up to me."
Gullit said: "I wasn't expecting it. Clarence has no coaching experience and has to show prove himself."
Tassotti said: "Everyone has his own ideas. He stopped playing only a few days ago, maybe some might think he has no experience, others that he has the knowledge to be able to succeed."
As a Milan player Seedorf was a figurehead, making more than 400 appearances and winning the Serie A title twice as well as a pair of Champions League crowns.
The Surinam-born star had his first taste of European glory with Ajax in 1995, a second success with Real Madrid three years later and he then won club football's top prize with Milan in 2003 and 2007.
Seedorf, who added a Rio league crown to his CV last year, had been expected to prolong his stay in Brazil but was widely believed to have had a clause inserted into his Botafogo deal allowing him to leave for a top coaching post.
His performances in midfield helped Botafogo to qualify for the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of Europe's Champions League, which starts on January 29, for the first time in 18 years.