Deportivo coach Seedorf running out of time in Spain

April 5, 2018
FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2017 file photo, soccer coach Clarence Seedorf arrives at the 19th Elite Club Coaches Forum at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Seedorf is running out of time to save Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish league. The former Dutch midfielder took over the coaching job at Deportivo with the mission of keeping the traditional Spanish club in the first division. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)

MADRID (AP) — Clarence Seedorf is running out of time at Deportivo La Coruna.

The former Netherlands great took over the coaching job at Deportivo with the mission of keeping the traditional Spanish club from relegation. Eight matches later, Deportivo has yet to win.

Seedorf has another eight matches to turn things around, and his next chance comes this weekend when the bottom four clubs face each other.

“We haven’t given up yet,” Seedorf told Marca radio. “We still have the strength to do it.”

Deportivo is second-to-last in the 20-team standings and hosts last-place Malaga on Friday. Two days later, 18th-place Las Palmas visits 17th-place Levante, the first team outside the relegation zone.

With a win, Deportivo can open up a six-point gap on Malaga and potentially move within five of Levante entering the final stretch of games.

However, the pressure on Seedorf has been increasing after five losses in his opening eight matches. During that stretch, the team has scored only two goals and conceded 10. Overall, Deportivo hasn’t won in 15 straight matches.

“The fans would be scoring an own-goal if they didn’t believe that we still have chances,” Seedorf said. “They have to believe it, for their own sake, for their own future.”

Deportivo won the Spanish league title in 2000 but played in the second division as recently as 2014.

A Deportivo fan group has called for protests before Friday’s match for that they call the “team’s worst season ever.”

“We know the fans are upset, it’s normal that they are feeling this way,” Deportivo defender Sidnei said Wednesday. “We are going through a very difficult moment, it’s tough to be in this situation. We have to keep working hard to try to win the matches. If I had to bet, I’d say Deportivo will still be playing in the first division next season.”

Seedorf — a star with the Dutch national team for more than a decade and a prominent player for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan — is making his third attempt at coaching after brief stints with AC Milan in 2014 and a second-division Chinese club in 2016.

Deportivo’s opponent on Friday is also trying to turn things around in time to avoid what would be its first relegation in a decade. Last weekend, Malaga surprised fifth-place Villarreal 1-0 to end a 14-match winless streak.

Las Palmas, whose last win came against Malaga nine games ago, was last in the second tier in the 2014-15 season.

“This game (against Levante) is one of the most important that the team will play in the last few years,” Las Palmas midfielder Vicente Gomez said. “It’s time to show that we are first-division players.”


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