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Soccer: Seedorf's job 'safe' despite Milan crisis

Poor form continues with fourth consecutive loss

17 March, 17:50
Soccer: Seedorf's job 'safe' despite Milan crisis

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has said Clarence Seedorf's job as coach of the seven-time European champions is not at risk after their poor form continued with Sunday's 4-2 home defeat to Parma. Former Milan midfielder Seedorf has now picked up seven defeats in 12 competitive games since replacing Massimiliano Allegri at the helm of his old side in January, including last week's 4-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid that saw Milan exit the Champions League at the last-16 stage.

"Seedorf's position is not in doubt," three-time premier Berlusconi told the people he spoke to after Milan's fourth consecutive loss, ANSA sources said.

"He'll be Milan's coach next year too". The Dutchman, who helped Milan win two Serie A titles, two Champions League crowns and a Club World Cup as a player between 2002 and 2012, had no experience at the helm of a senior side when he was put in charge.

The mood at Milan was already ugly before Sunday's defeat, with fans protesting outside the ground, and it grew worse during the match, as players and managers were booed and insulted. Berlusconi reportedly blames the current situation on the club's transfer dealings and, therefore, on Chief Executive Adriano Galliani.

"The Milan team has been built badly," Berlusconi said.

Milan, who had to play almost all of Sunday's match in 10 men after goalkeeper Christian Abbiati got sent off and conceded the penalty for Parma's opener on five minutes, are 11th with 35 points, 40 points behind Juve.

Berlusconi's comments echoed those made by his daughter Barbara, a member of the Milan board, in October after a poor start to the season. At the time, ANSA sources said Barbara Berlusconi complained to her father that Milan had invested significant amounts on players in the last two transfer windows, but the results were disappointing because the money had been spent on the wrong players.

The ensuing rift led Galliani, Berlusconi's right-hand-man in soccer for Italian for almost 30 years, to say he was quitting, before the row was patched up, with Barbara Berlusconi being promoted to joint CEO.

Many have also complained that, while Galliani may have made mistakes, Berlusconi has not invested the money to match the club's history and ambition in recent years.

He has been trying to introduce a policy based on less expensive, talented young players. The turning point was the 2012 close season, when Milan sold their two best players, Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil defender Thiago Silva, to Paris Saint-Germain.

One of the players who took most of the flak on Sunday was Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who converted a penalty for his 11th Serie A goal of the season but often irritates fans with poor discipline and inconsistency.

Former Milan striker Antonio Cassano, meanwhile, is hoping for an Italy recall before the World Cup after scoring twice for Parma Sunday in the latest in a series of strong recent performances. The 31-year-old, who like Balotelli has scored 11 goals this season and has a reputation for indiscipline, has not played for Italy since helping them reach the final of Euro 2012.

"I have never played at a World Cup and it's something I'd love to do. I would be the happiest man in the world if it happened," said Cassano after helping sixth-placed Parma stretch their unbeaten run to 16 games. Last week Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said that, while he had never closed the doors on Cassano, "they are not too open either".

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