February 8, 2018 / 4:15 PM / 9 days ago

Soccer: Serial winner Seedorf begins Depor survival battle

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Clarence Seedorf was one of the most decorated footballers and is looking to prove he can also be an influence from the dugout as he bids to resuscitate freefalling Deportivo La Coruna at home to Real Betis on Monday.

The former Real Madrid midfielder is the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs, collecting 11 major honours with Ajax Amsterdam, Real and AC Milan but he has been unable to replicate that success as a coach.

The Dutchman was sacked by Milan and Chinese team Shenzhen FC after five months and has only taken charge of 36 games, making him a surprise choice for Depor when they sacked Cristobal Parrolo after losing five of their last seven games and dropping into the relegation zone.

Seedorf is relishing the challenge of trying to keep Deportivo up and his new players say he has already left an impression.

“He is a coach with character, a leader. He wants us to believe in ourselves, he is a serious coach who likes intensity,” forward Adrian Lopez told reporters on Thursday.

“For this to change we need to believe in ourselves, there’s a new energy about the place now and we have to transfer that to the dressing-room.”

Seedorf has requested double training sessions and ordered the players to eat more meals together in an attempt to boost team spirit.

“We all look at him with admiration. It’s an honour for us to play for him and this means that we’ll pay even more attention to what he tells us. These series of training sessions are good and help us to get to know each other,” Adrian said.

Seedorf is the eighth coach Deportivo have appointed since 2014 and the third this season after Parrolo and Pepe Mel. They have the worst defensive record in the league, leaking 51 goals in 22 games, and their last win came two months ago.

Runaway leaders Barcelona host Getafe looking to get back on tracking after a 1-1 draw at Espanyol cut the gap at the top of the standings over Atletico Madrid to nine points.

Atletico visit basement club Malaga on Saturday while floundering champions Real Madrid host Real Sociedad searching for an injection of confidence four days before their Champions League last 16 first-leg game against Paris St Germain.

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond

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