Crisis for Mihajlovic as Milan see Europe slipping away
AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic could be resigned to a possible summer departure after reportedly claiming he can’t “do any more” with the struggling Serie A giants.
Milan’s hopes of battling their way to a top three finish and a possible return to the Champions League after a two-year absence were virtually ended by a scoreless draw at Chievo on Saturday.
It left the seven-time European champions stuck in sixth place at 11 points behind Roma, who occupy the third and last spot to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition.
Mihajlovic, who starred for Lazio, Sampdoria and Inter Milan during his Serie A playing days, was reportedly told last month by club owner Silvio Berlusconi he would have to win every game in the run-in to clinch a place in the top three and save his job.
The former Serbia international was serving a one-match suspension on Saturday and although not scheduled to speak to the media, Mediaset reported he complained: “With this squad it’s impossible for me to do any more.”
Mihajlovic and Milan later played down the report, but the reality for one of the biggest sides in European football over the past 20 years is stark.
Milan, Italy’s most successful club in European competition, have not contended the Champions League since losing 5-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid in the last 16 in 2014.
Unless Roma and their fellow rivals for the league’s last Champions League qualifying spot, in this case Inter Milan and Fiorentina, suffer a dramatic collapse, Milan will miss out again.
Worse, if the Rossoneri fail to finish in at least fifth spot, and suffer defeat to Juventus in the Italian Cup final — the winners of which are given a Europa League spot — they will miss out on Europe altogether.
Veteran goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, who made a rare appearance at the weekend after teenaged star Gianluigi Donnarumma suffered injury in the opening minutes, said there’s only one way to respond.
“There’s still a long way to go this season, and we have to give it everything and try and catch up with the sides above us in the table,” said Abbiati.
“I am not happy with the past two results and they are hard to take. We are Milan and when you come here you have to prove yourself. We need to find our focus again.”
Milan host Lazio next weekend and after a trip to Atalanta, travel to Turin to face league and Cup champions Juventus.