AC Milan general manager Marco Fassone has given coach Vincenzo Montella his full backing despite a third straight defeat on Sunday.
Milan were beaten 3-2 by city rivals Inter, leaving them in 10th, 12 points behind leaders Napoli and 10 adrift of the Nerazzurri.
Although Fassone was buoyed by Milan’s performance at the San Siro, particularly in the second half, he told Sky Sport Italia: “It hurts to look at the league table.
“Maybe it hurts more after losing a game in which we had created so much in the second half.
“We’ve lost our last two games, but each has shown glimpses of something. Maybe we are not a team yet, but we will become one.
“We have extreme faith in Vincenzo, both from me and from [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli. Montella knows how to teach football, he knows how to play football.
“He did it last season and he will do it again this year, even if these recent games may make people wonder.”
Fassone said Montella “knows how to find a remedy, and the results will arrive.”
And he added: “We need to give our coach the maximum support and protection possible. He has got to know that the club are with him and that he can focus on what happens on the field to transform these excellent individuals into a team.”
Fassone stressed that Milan’s aim remained Champions League qualification and said: “Only eight games have been played and we knew the first phase of the season would be the most difficult.
“It would be ugly and undesirable to have to postpone the club’s plans by a year, but it wouldn’t be a drama. I think that you need to work up to things, even if they are going a bit slower than expected.
“Maybe we were a little too optimistic, but I’m convinced that we’ll get there.”
Inter’s win lifted them three points clear of champions Juventus in second place and put them just two behind Napoli, who they travel to face next weekend.
“Certainly the game at Napoli’s going to be exciting,” coach Luciano Spalletti told Sky.
“We’re going to go there and try to win it, but they’re a great team and I can only share all of the compliments you’ve been paying to [Napoli coach Maurizio] Sarri because he’s doing a great job.
“We were a long way off the top last season, but now we’ve put plenty of hay in the loft. It could all come in quite useful.”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.