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Mar 26, 2014

Seedorf aware of mounting scrutiny

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains why Mario Balotelli was benched during Milan's draw at Lazio.

AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf says he is not blind to criticism of his work, although he is trying not to let it affect him as he prepares for Wednesday night’s key Serie A fixture at Fiorentina.

• Paul: Players who provide foundations for Milan rebuild

The Dutchman is coming under pressure with the Rossoneri struggling in mid-table and already out of the Champions League. They trail fifth-placed Parma, and a berth in the Europa League next season, by 11 points with only nine games of the season to go.

Defeat in Florence would virtually end their hopes of European football next season, and it has been rumoured Seedorf could lose his job as a consequence. He says he hears the rumours and that they “don't just bounce off” him, although he remains optimistic about his and Milan’s future.

“It’s normal that I don’t like reading or hearing certain things, but I am still able to cope with moments of stress or difficulty without losing my serenity,” Seedorf said at a prematch news conference. “The secret in life is to make every obstacle into an opportunity.

“I think about Milan from morning to night, and there is certainly no lack of effort and desire on my part.”

Before Sunday’s trip to Lazio, which ended in a 1-1 draw, the club’s general manager, Adriano Galliani, assumed a more hands-on role of team affairs, with Seedorf welcoming his close presence as a kind of mentor.

“There has never been any tension in my relationship with him,” said Seedorf, who feels he, in turn, has the same role to play in looking after Mario Balotelli.

“You say I 'baby' him, but I’d say I’m just managing the group,” Seedorf said, after having the Italy international on the bench at the weekend and refused to promise him a starting berth in Florence. “I’m very demanding with him because he has huge potential.”

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