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Deportivo wastes penalty kick, remains winless under Seedorf

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MADRID (AP) — Clarence Seedorf remained winless as Deportivo La Coruna coach after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol in the Spanish league on Friday.

Deportivo squandered chances including a second-half penalty kick taken by Lucas Perez. Its winless streak reached 10 games in all competitions.

It was the third game in a row without a victory since Seedorf took over to try to avoid relegation. Deportivo was 18th in the 20-team standings, in the relegation zone.

In addition to the missed penalty, Deportivo twice hit the posts in front of a supportive crowd at Riazor Stadium. The players left the field applauded by the local fans despite the setback.

Perez’s penalty attempt was saved by Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 65th minute. Lopez, who earlier this season stopped a penalty taken by Lionel Messi, dived to his right to stop Perez’s low shot.

The match marked the Deportivo debut of veteran Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. He played alongside Seedorf at AC Milan, and was signed this week after a trial period.

Espanyol, 15th in the standings, hasn’t won in seven matches, since it ended Barcelona’s 29-match unbeaten streak in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Espanyol’s last league win was in January, seven rounds ago.

Barcelona defends its seven-point lead in the standings when it hosts Girona on Saturday. Second-place Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla on Sunday.

Deportivo La Coruna hires Seedorf as coach

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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna hired former Dutch player Clarence Seedorf as its coach on Monday for the rest of the season.

“I’m happy to have this opportunity to work in football again, in a club with so much history and in a league that gave me so much,” said Seedorf, who played for Real Madrid in the late 1990s.

The former defensive midfielder replaced Cristobal Parralo, who was fired on Sunday, two days after a 5-0 loss at Real Sociedad extended Deportivo’s winless streak to seven matches. The club is 18th in the 20-team Spanish league, in the relegation zone.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Seedorf said. “I like to take on these challenges. It would be easy to go to a place where everything is working well. I can help the club.”

After a long playing career at several top clubs, Seedorf made his coaching debut with AC Milan in 2014, staying on the job for a few months. He also had a brief coaching stint in Chinese football in 2016.

“We did a good job at Milan but it was a complicated moment for the club,” Seedorf said.

He said his lack of coaching experience shouldn’t be a problem, noting Zinedine Zidane had even less experience when he took over Real Madrid’s helm.

Seedorf played for Milan, Inter Milan, Sampdoria, Ajax, and Brazil’s Botafogo. He won the Champions League five times, two with Madrid, two with Milan, and one with Ajax.

Seedorf starts working on Tuesday, and his first match in command of Deportivo will be on Monday at home against Real Betis.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Report: Filippo Inzaghi set to take the head job at AC Milan

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Serie A and AC Milan legend Filippo Inzaghi is set to take the reins at San Siro despite precious little experience as a manager

According to Goal Italy, Inzaghi will take over the No. 1 slot at AC Milan after two seasons running their U-19 side.

AC Milan stumbled this season under Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf. While the club improved under the latter, it wasn’t enough to keep the Dutchman employed as Milan’s boss.

From Goal.com:

Milan has been searching for a replacement but has been put off its pusuit of Sevilla coach Unai Emery thanks to the high costs involved.

Club management figures, including owner Silvio Berlusconi and CEO Adriano Galliani, met Monday afternoon and have decided that Inzaghi is the only viable candidate to train the team next season.

Berlusconi and Galliani are expected to inform the former Italy international of their decision to promote him imminently.

AC Milan finished in eighth place in Serie A this season, three points back of No. 5 Inter Milan, 18 points back of No. 2 Roma and 45 back of scudetto-winning Juventus.

Mario Balotelli continues to grab headlines

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After Milan lost 2-0 to title-chasing Roma on Friday, Mario Balotelli found himself in the spotlight once more. The former Manchester City forward, who once made the news for setting his own house on fire while playing with fireworks, demonstrated that his own fuse is still rather short. When pressed for comment on his performance during the match, Balotelli sniped back at reporters, eventually tossing down the microphone and walking away.

During the match in Rome, Balotelli had no shots on goal, a statistic unique for the forward. His biggest involvement came around the half-hour mark, when he swiped the ball from Leandro Castan, outran two Roma defenders and found himself in prime position to shoot. Instead Balotelli tried to be too tricky, and when he couldn’t get his shot off, collapsed under a slight touch. The referee waved away his antics, and Roma took the lead ten minutes later.

With Balotelli putting out such an uninspired performance, it was no surprise that Clarence Seedorf chose to replace him with Giampaolo Pazzini with twenty minutes left to go. There was no tantrum, no tears this time, but cameras did capture the Italian directing what appeared to be a few extremely annoyed words in the direction of his coach.

It was after the match that Balotelli’s temper emerged. When questioned as to why he didn’t move about the field more, he responded, “”You don’t understand anything about football. Trust me, you really don’t.” The forward, speaking to Sky Italia, continued, “You always talk and talk, but there’s no point to saying any of these things. No point at all.”

As if his words were not enough to indicate his frustration, to signal the conclusion of the interview, Balotelli threw down the microphone and walked away.

Candidates you need to know as Manchester United looks for a manager

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So now that David Moyes has officially been canned, lasting about 1,450 games less than his predecessor at Manchester United, who’s the top pick to be given a couple weeks to restore the Red Devils to Champions League status?

Besides Ryan Giggs, the United legend who will guide the club on an interim basis, here are the names to know. Surely many will be familiar from the “Who will replace” Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood, Roberto di Matteo et. al circuses?

THE FAVORITES (In no particular order)

Louis van Gaal – So what if he’s yet to play or manage in England? Vocally “totally sick” of being Netherlands coach and moving on after World Cup, van Gaal is the bookies favorite to get the gig. The Dutchman has bounced around a bunch, from Ajax to Barcelona to the Netherlands and back to Barcelona before spending time at AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich… and the Netherlands again. He led a star-studded Ajax team to the Champions League title in 1995, has topped the league tables in Holland, Spain and Germany, and has a great reputation with United star Robin van Persie. ESPN reported today that United have already reached out to van Gaal.

Jurgen Klopp – The 46-year-old Dortmund boss has reportedly quashed the idea of going to Manchester United mere hours after the job became open. That doesn’t mean things can’t change, but the in-demand man is also being talked about as a potential boss at Barcelona and Tottenham.

Diego Simeone – Let’s face it: any manager whose club remains in the UEFA Champions League is worth considering as a high-profile, headline-grabbing replacement for Moyes (though naming anyone for the United gig would grab headlines). The 43-year-old Argentine is a fiery leader who would have a unique look behind the United bench, and would likely relish a job where his best players wouldn’t consistently be linked with larger clubs.

Roberto Martinez – Stop laughing. He’s one of the top managers in the game, and just showed the world how capable he is to take a group of players underperforming under one manager and lift them to another level. The Everton boss specifically has experience taking players Moyes couldn’t get to the Europe and propping them up a few places. Would Everton “let” him leave? Would he even want the poisoned chalice when he’s currently boasting the best win percentage in Toffees history?

Mauricio Pochettino – It would be an absolutely-inspired hire for the Red Devils; the Southampton boss has worked miracles at St. Mary’s and could bring Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and countless others with him. Heck, you could argue the Saints are currently a better club than Manchester United… and perhaps a better gig. Maybe this one’s a bit under the radar, but the man is a master tactician who would welcome a more “Europe-ready” gig.

THE OTHERS

Sir Alex Ferguson – Is there any doubt the Scot has the ego to jump back into the gig, snare loads of quality players he didn’t provide Moyes and then say, “Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t have left?” Of course not. In fact, he may have to be kept from doing it. Also, Sir Alex would be really offended to know he’s on a list titled “The Others.”

Clarence Seedorf – Extremely unlikely, but the Suriname-born legend has almost-immediately restored order to an AC Milan club hit with similar frustrations as Manchester United.

Roberto di Matteo – He’s familiar with England as a player and manager, and has achieved pretty unique turnarounds in short periods of time at Chelsea and West Brom. Plus everyone’s always asking about him, apparently!

Carlos Quieroz – Twice a United assistant, the 61-year-old Iran boss has also run the ships for Portugal and Real Madrid (and the Metrostars).

Laurent Blanc – Could he leave the high-profile PSG seat for increased volatility in the Premier League?

Carlo Ancelotti – He’s done the job at Chelsea and now at Real Madrid, and would be a fairly-safe bet to have success at Old Trafford.

Pep Guardiola – Would he really depart from Bayern Munich in the throes of forming an all-time giant?

Roy Keane – We kid, we kid.

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