Allegri under increased pressure as slide continues.
Over the past few decades, the Champions League has been synonymous with AC Milan as the Italian giants have not only been a consistent presence in the tournament, but have gone on to win it seven times in their glorious history.
However, there is a threat that their success in Europe may continue to be confined to the history books, as for the second season running they are in danger of missing out on qualifying for Europe’s premier competition.
While they were able to put together a miraculous run of form which took them from the bottom half of the table to a last day of the season win at Siena which ultimately secured third place last year, it is looking more likely that a repeat performance simply can’t be achieved.
The Rossoneri currently sit 13 points adrift of Juventus who occupy the final Champions League spot, and with Fiorentina visiting the San Siro this weekend it could yet get worse for Massimiliano Allegri’s men if they don’t turn things around quickly.
Much of the early season struggle had been levelled at the crippling number of injuries that the squad had suffered from. While there are some key players still missing, Allegri is now coming under increased scrutiny for not achieving positive results with the bulk of his first-team players now available.
Worryingly for Milan supporters, he even alluded to the fact that they must close the gap on the “Europa League zone” first, which perhaps gave more away than he would have wanted in terms of the objectives for the season.
There is no doubt that Serie A as a whole is growing into a more competitive league, with as many as six teams harbouring realistic hopes of securing a Scudetto.
However, in terms of financial importance and expectations, a top three finish is the minimum for those clubs this year and currently it is difficult to see how Milan will work their way back into the equation given the start made by the likes of Roma, Napoli and Juventus.
Nevertheless, in contrast there is an argument which would support the idea that finishing outside of the European spots could be turned into a positive in the years ahead.
Napoli, Juventus and now Roma and Inter Milan have all benefited from being able to focus their efforts solely on Serie A, which in turn has allowed them to grow with the right management and transfer strategies.
While the financial aspect of missing out on qualifying for the Champions League could have a negative impact initially, it has previously turned out to be a blessing in disguise when considering the bigger picture.
Speculation continues to suggest that Allegri will part company with the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, if not sooner depending on results.
With Cesare Prandelli rumoured to be set to step down from his position as the Italy coach after the World Cup, a reunion with Mario Balotelli and Co. at club level could be the perfect partnership moving forward.