When Clarence Seedorf took on the Deportivo La Coruna job, many admired his bravery in accepting such a challenge.
The Branquiazuis sat 18th in the table and were three points off safety, yet the Dutch legend viewed the club as the perfect opportunity to return to management after 18 months out of the game.
Depor had a squad full of quality but were performing well below expectations, Seedorf’s view was that he could reinvigorate the players and guide them out of the storm and into calmer waters.
Now, almost two months on, he must realise he underestimated the task in hand. Seven games in to his reign at Abanca-Riazor the 41-year-old coach is still without a win. In that time his side have suffered four losses and scored just twice.
The 1-1 stalemate with Las Palmas prior to the international break was a new low in the short but underwhelming Seedorf era. Backed by their own support at Riazor, Depor failed to rise to the occasion and could only take a point from a must-win clash against fellow strugglers.
If the club are to go down, and it’s looking increasingly likely, the draw was just one of a number of games they will look back upon with regret – under Seedorf Deportivo have also missed chances to claim three points from matches against Espanyol and Eibar.
14 – Deportivo are 14 games in a row without a win in La Liga (D5 L9), and have equaled their worst winless run in a single season in the top flight – between February & May 2015 (14). Fall. pic.twitter.com/25NuG9pZWe
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 17, 2018
As well as being poorly set-up tactically, the players are struggling mentally. And they’re now at the every managers fears; when the belief is gone and they’ve forgotten what it feels like to win.
The club’s last victory came way back on December 9, when they earned a hard-fought 1-0 win against Leganes. Almost four months have passed since then without three points being collected.
Yet it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Depor came into the season built to attack, their weaknesses in defence well known. With Lucas Perez and Florin Andone the side were expected to score plenty of goals – some even joked the remit would be to simply outscore their opponents in each game.
But with the exception of Andone, no one has been consistent in front of goal. Perez has been a flop on his return to the club after an ill-fated season-long spell at Arsenal, and despite his best efforts he’s not really fit into the team at any point.
It’s a shame given he’s a local player and Depor are his his boyhood club. He’ll undoubtedly be hurting but has struck just four goals this term and is only averaging 1.27 scoring attempts per 90.
He’s not netted since November 19 and that’s despite Seedorf playing him with both Adrián Lopez and Andone. In fact it’s only the latter, the lively Romanian striker, who has scored since Seedorf came to the club.
While the attack has disappointed everyone, the poor defence hasn’t been a surprise. They’ve shipped 38 goals from open play this season and an equally troubling 18 from set pieces, the most in La Liga.
Seedorf has gone some way to addressing this, however. Depor are conceding on average 1.28 times per 90 under the Milan great, an considerable improvement on this season’s previous coaches Pepe Mel (2.00) and Cristobal (2.52).
Seedorf does deserve credit for how he’s reorganised and patched up a defence with limited resources, but like those before him, he’s been unable to solve the goalkeeping curse the club have been under this season.
Five different stoppers have been tasked with keeping the opposition out this term – Maksym Koval, Costel Pantilimon, Rubén Martinez, Przemyslaw Tyton and Francis Uzoho – and their performances have ranged from downright awful to simply atrocious.
Clearly Seedorf got his diagnosis wrong when he opted to take on Depor. He may have stopped the bleeding but he is no miracle worker. The club have several wounds, and they run deep. Perhaps too deep even for him to fix.