AC Milan’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli has called on the club’s fans to get behind the team as they prepare to face city rivals Inter in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.
A 2-0 defeat at home to Atalanta prior to Christmas saw the Rossoneri slip to 11th in Serie A, 14 points adrift of the top four and qualification for the Champions League.
Fans at the San Siro started to turn against the team as soon as they fell behind to Atalanta, but Mirabelli hopes they will back them from start to finish when they challenge Inter for a place in the semifinals of the cup.
“We are really sorry to our fans who have always believed in us,” he told the club’s official website. “They whistled us and they had every right to do so. We have now to focus and stick together for the derby.”
In an article posted on the club’s website, Mirabelli’s plea was reinforced, with a call for fans to show the players some love.
“Other teams have had hard times this season. Not to mention those who are in the first places of the table, others like Fiorentina, Genoa, Sassuolo and Udinese are fighting and climbing back up in the league,” the editorial read. “Now, AC Milan are under a different spotlight, of course. The team looks emotionally fragile, with not enough mental strength.
“This is the reason why AC Milan need to feel the love of its people. Looking for who needs to take the blame for what’s happening won’t help clear the sky. It is more important to give strength to these boys. Attacking a frightened team won’t be of much help. Backing them and being patient can do a lot more.
“There’s always tomorrow. There’s always another night. It’s a tough one, but it’s not impossible. A great match and a great picture of the team together in the dressing room after the game: this is what we are missing and we want it with all our heart.”
Milan’s final game of 2017 will see them travel to Fiorentina on Saturday before they have two fixtures which, on paper, are more favourable: at home to Crotone and, after a two-week break, at Cagliari.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.