It was almost too good to be true...Clarence Seedorf makes his coaching debut, and Milan wins.
Seedorf is the first coach to win on his home debut in the Berlusconi era since Fabio Capello, and although it was not pretty, it was satisfactory.
Milan were able to defeat Verona by a slim margin of 1-0, thanks to a penalty awarded in the 82nd minute -- in which Mario Balotelli, one of the most lethal penalty takers in the game today, put it past Rafael with ease.
Despite the early celebrations for our new manager, there is still a lot of work to do in order to salvage the poor season and qualify for Europe.
Fresh off a drubbing of Spezia earlier in the week, in which Milan won 3-1, assistant coach Mauro Tassotti admitted that Milan were relying on Coppa Italia success to qualify for Europe.
That is slightly embarassing, to say the least. Maybe it is because a squad with such prestige should at least qualify for UEFA's Europa Cup -- that would be the bare minimum. Why that statement is also painful to read is because Milan have not won Coppa Italia since 2003. That was 10 years ago.
The team needs to improve, and with the current shakeup and January transfer window approaching, at least the confidence for Milan to get back to winning ways seems in check.
As for the new coach, he looks too comfortable in the coaching role. Oozing with confidence, Seedorf walked out of the tunnel on Sunday night as if he had been coaching for decades. Maybe it is his good looks or the way his stylish and chic uniform had presented him, yet he definitely looks ready to take the obstacles head on.
At first glance, it also seems like he is getting along with the players. After Balotelli scored the match-winning penalty, he pointed to the coach and dedicated the goal to him -- only to have the former Milan and Real Madrid legend to point back with a smile.
Seedorf told the media that Milan need to find the joy of playing football again, and by the looks of it, he is the frontrunner at making that possible.
It is too early to tell exactly what impact Seedorf has with all the players, however the fact that he expressed his urge to keep fellow Dutchman Urby Emanuelson means that Seedorf is looking at the positive side of things -- even though the negatives cast quite a big shadow at the moment.
In terms of play, that is what looked a bit worrisome last weekend. Verona was without striker Luca Toni, who not only has nine goals this season, but he also slayed Milan at the beginning of the season with his two-goal game -- giving Verona the 2-1 victory on the opening matchday.
Verona looked weak, and uninspired to say the least. The absence of the former Italian international surely had an impact on the game, and that is where Milan did not capitalize. Verona's keeper Rafael made a few good saves, nullifying Balotelli for a good portion of the game. Verona's back line was also a little shaky, and despite their efforts, Milan could not take advantage of that.
As hard as it is to admit, teams like Juventus, Napoli and Roma would have made Verona pay for their mistakes and sloppy defending -- the bottom line is that Milan did not.
A win's a win, sure. Although, if Milan would have not been awarded that penalty with 10 minutes to go, who knows if the game would have ended the way it did.
The formation proposed from Seedorf was a 4-2-3-1, and with a few adjustments, that could suit the team moving forward.
Balotelli was alright, however we have seen better. Robinho and Kaka obviously have chemistry together, and they brought forth decent displays of attacking. Honda was very active on the ball, however it is normal that the Japanese standout needs time to adapt to a new league. He was threatening, however lacked creativity when passing options were not there.
The midfield looked good, with Nigel de Jong taking the reins and moving the ball well. Despite interest from Liverpool, this was a perfect example of why we need to keep the Dutchman.
The defense was largely untested, however Zapata played one of his better games this season, and De Sciglio proves again how he can be lethal in a few years time with his attacking displays up the sidelines.
The main point here is that although the team needs to adjust to the new coach's style and that the organization as a whole enduring quite a big change over the past couple of weeks, Milan need to be better. It is difficult to say that the team has to improve after a win, however like mentioned before, we cannot always rely on penalties to win games. Milan had a few chances to put the game away in the first half. They simply needed to make more of an impact in the second.
It is safe to say Milan were not great, but good. It's a start. They do need to be better though, if they want to make the European dream a reality being seven points out of position.