AC Milan, Clubs, Italian Serie A, Story

Gab Marcotti explains why he believes Italy’s World Cup qualifying failure could factor into Napoli’s clash against Milan.

AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella has said there has been so much speculation about his future that he is no longer listening to what people say.

Montella’s future was again the subject of discussion following the weekend’s defeat to Napoli, which saw his side fall 16 points off the top and 11 behind fourth-placed Roma, who have a game in hand.

With six defeats in 13 Serie A games, results have not gone as expected after more than €200 million was spent on new players in the summer, while questions have also been raised about the club’s finances.

But Montella, who attempts to guide his side into the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, told a news conference: “We are under fire, but we need to focus on what is happening on the field.

“It’s got to the point where I’m no longer even paying any attention because too much is being said.

“The same goes for my own job, which you keep saying is under threat. I can see positive signs every day and I can see a lot of calm, which is precisely what we need to reach our goals.

“There’s a lot of pressure, also for the young players who have arrived, and obviously I’d take an ugly performance with three points — but I think we’re coming along well.”

Milan are guaranteed to advance in the Europa League if they beat Austria Vienna at the San Siro, while a draw would suffice if Rijeka fail to win.

“We have very high hopes in Europe,” Montella said. “We’ve given our best in all the competitions we’ve played in so far, but certainly we’ve got to secure our passage now so that we can focus more on the league.

“Winning helps you win. We’ve still got to improve mentally, but this is going to be a test for us to understand our true level.”

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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