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Tuesday June 10, 2014 MYT 1:44:25 AM
Tuesday June 10, 2014 MYT 1:44:37 AM
by brian homewood
AC Milan's coach Clarence Seedorf gestures during their Italian Serie A soccer match against Atalanta at Atleti Azzurri d'Italia stadium in Bergamo May 11, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
(Reuters) - AC Milan fired coach Clarence Seedorf on Monday after less than five months in charge and replaced him with youth team boss Filippo Inzaghi, a move that had been on hold for two weeks.
"I thank Silvio Berlusconi for the trust," former Italy and Milan striker Inzaghi said of the club president. "This club is my life.
"I will give my all for this shirt, with dedication, passion and determination," he added on the club's official Twitter account after signing a two-year contract.
Former Netherlands midfielder Seedorf, who had no previous coaching experience and spent 10 years of his playing career at Milan, quickly fell out of favour despite overseeing a significant improvement in results.
Milan won 11 out of 19 Serie A matches under the Dutchman compared to only five of the previous 19 under predecessor Massimiliano Allegri on their way to an eighth-place finish, missing out on the Europa League by one point.
Seedorf, 38, was playing for Botafogo in Brazil when he was offered the Milan job and cut short his playing career to accept what he clearly felt was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
A crushing 5-1 aggregate defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 appeared to turn the tide against Seedorf, who as a player won the Champions League with Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan.
Former Italy striker Inzaghi, who has also never coached at senior level, had been in charge of the club's under-19 team.
He spent 11 seasons playing for Milan, winning two Serie A titles and two Champions League crowns, and collected 57 caps for his country.
Inzaghi was on the end of one of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's most famous quotes when the Scot said: "That lad must have been born offside".
Most critics agreed that Seedorf was not to blame for Milan's recent troubles which has seen them slip down the pecking order in Serie A and the Champions League.
Milan's difficulties began at the end of the 2011/12 season when they decided it was time to balance the books and sold talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and key defender Thiago Silva to Paris St Germain.
Other long-time servants also left including defender Alessandro Nesta and tough-tackling midfielder Gennaro Gattuso. The club hailed a new philosophy based on finding and developing talented young players yet went and did exactly the opposite, hiring players in the middle or latter stages of their careers.
The 2013 summer transfer window saw them splash out 11 million euros on journeyman striker Alessandro Matri who failed to settle and was loaned to Fiorentina in January.
Slovenian midfielder Valter Birsa was signed from Genoa as a free agent while Kaka, 32, returned to the club after four injury-prone years at Real Madrid in a classic case of what Italians call "reheated soup" (minestre recaldati).
In January, the club then plucked Michael Essien out of Chelsea's reserves.
Milan promised to stick with coach Massimiliano Allegri until the end of the season, but lost patience with him in January and brought in Seedorf amid great fanfare.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez and Martyn Herman)
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