Massimiliano Allegri might be accustomed to life on the AC Milan hot seat, but even he must get off it eventually.
On Tuesday, the embattled AC Milan head coach confirmed his impending departure from the club, saying he had just spent his “last Christmas” at the San Siro. He also expressed little concern for the identity of his potential replacement, according to Football Italia.
“I leave a good team that earned the love of the fans,” Allegri reportedly told Gazzetta dello Sport. “A team that with a few adjustments will have a future.
“I have always worked with enthusiasm and will continue right to the end. Why am I leaving? I decided the day it was made official I’d remain for one more season. I liked the idea of staying and finishing the job, but four years in one club is a long time.”
“I don’t know who will be the next Milan coach, and it’s not my problem. I can be certain this is my last Christmas at Milan, but I got there despite many people doubting I’d manage that.”
AC Milan, one of the giants of Italian and European soccer, is struggling this season. It sits in 13th place in Serie A (Italy’s first division) — 27 points behind league-leading Juventus and 17 points out of fourth place. While winning Serie A and qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League appear to be out of reach, Allegri says his team can make its fans proud in other competitions.
“The last four months in Serie A were disastrous,” Allegri told Sky Italia. “In 2014 we are focusing on a great Champions League campaign.
“Plus there is the Coppa Italia [Italian Cup] to play for and in the League third place is a long way off, but we’ll do everything possible.”
Allegri took charge at AC Milan in 2010 and led the Rossoneri to the Serie A title in his first season. However, the fortunes of both club and coach declined, as a host of veteran players retired or left for other teams. Highly paid stars exited, and younger and more inexpensive players replaced them, as AC Milan transitioned from one era to the next on Allegri’s watch. AC Milan finished second in 2011-12 and third last season, and calls for Allegri to step down grew louder. They have reached a crescendo this season.
There is widespread speculation that Clarence Seedorf will replace Allegri. He currently plays for Brazilian club Botafogo but is expected to retire and return to AC Milan (where he spent 10 years as a player) as a head coach. Former Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has also been linked with the AC Milan job recently.
Despite the downturn in results, Allegri remains proud of his work at the San Siro.
“We did what we needed, in three seasons, the team and I, we got the results we were asked to,” he said.
If Allegri can guide AC Milan to glory in the Coppa Italia and qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa League, fans might feel the same way about his four-year tenure.
Photo via Twitter/@433NL