Note: Sorry for the length of this post but it is necessary for me to fully explain what I'm trying to convey.
As a new era begins, it is important to think about what is the best way to achieve the main goal of any team: sustainable success. Im an American football junkie, and I think the parallels of constructing an NFL roster and a squad in soccer can be looked at very similarly. Lets start out looking at the NFL side of things.
I have not been the most fortunate fan the past couple years, watching the struggles of Milan and also my favorite NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. After many years of watching the team make puzzling moves, similar to what Milan has been doing the past couple years, it was very refreshing to see the new regime install a long term plan this past year.
There are two ways of thinking when rebuilding an NFL roster, Some teams select the best available player in the draft and then build a scheme around them. On the other hand some teams select players that fit perfectly into a specific scheme they want to install. Like many things in coaching, neither approach is necessarily right or wrong. The Packers have achieved a lot of success drafting the best available player and then having their coaches make a scheme to fit them (although it can be argued their success is due to having the best QB in the game). The 49ers have used this approach as well and have built one of the most talented rosters in the league. Using the other approach the Seahawks (And now the Jaguars) drafted players to fit their specific scheme. Big corners, an oversized safety, small but fast linebackers. They had an idea in mind of how all the players would eventually fit together once they were assembled. After 3 years their conviction to their vision paid off and they won the Super Bowl.
Since there is no draft in soccer, the philosophy of selecting the best available player doesn’t really apply. But a similar thing happened when players were added during the Allegri era. Many players were brought in, who didn’t necessarily complement each other well or function well as a unit. NDJ and Monty seem to be incompatible in both a 3 man and 2 man midfield, though it might still be a bit early to judge the latter. There are some good attacking options on paper, but SES thrived on the wing in Allegri’s 4-3-3. Honda is best as a pure 10. Who even knows where Kaka is best right now. Is Balo an actual 9? He can get there eventually, but right now he is not a prima punta. The defense is just lacking in individual skill rather than fit. As you can see this disjunction has lead to the disaster of a season we are having. Lets not make this about pointing fingers, as both Allegri and Galliani share a portion of the blame for the current status of the squad.
When rebuilding a team in football, all GMs agree the most important thing is to first evaluate what you currently have on the team. That’s what the Jaguars did this season and what the Seahawks did 3 years ago. They knew the team wasn’t that talented, and upgrades would be needed, but they installed their system and went through a rough year to figure out who can fit and who needs to be replaced. This is what Seedorf is currently doing right now. He envisions the team playing attractive football in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Perhaps he doesn’t have the wingers right now to make the system work ideally, just like the Jaguars didn’t have the pass rushers or big corners to make Seattles system work for them in their first year. It may not result in instant gratification, but taking the first step in installing a new system is necessary to build for the future.
The rest of this year is about evaluating who fits Seedorfs vision and who doesn’t. And honestly, it will probably take about 15-20 games for Seedorf to accurately do so. It is necessary to go through some struggles in order to make smart, necessary changes during the summer to advance the team. The debate going on right now is maybe a Christmas tree formation works better for the current squad. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t. That’s not the point. If Seedorf wants to use a 4-2-3-1 next season then he should use it right now. No real progress will be made without Seedorf and Galliani being on the same page, and of course investment from a certain someone.
Seedorf will make some mistakes. Hes still feeling the squad out. Hopefully hes learning from his mistakes, and it looks like he is as evidenced by the changes he made in the Napoli game. This is a long-term process. But in order to achieve long term success these bumps in the road are necessary.