Stefano Pioli says Milan will do whatever is necessary to restore their form, but admitted that his team “started badly and finished even worse” as they lost 3-1 to Udinese on Saturday.
The Rossoneri were trailed early by Roberto Pereira’s goal at the Friuli Stadium before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s double-concealed penalty equalized them and the 41-year-old became Serie A’s oldest goalscorer.
However, Beto restored Udinese’s lead after just two minutes, and Kingsley Ehisibue added a third in the second half, giving Friulani their first home league win since beating Inter in September.
As a result, Milan have gone three games without a win and five losses in their last nine matches, leaving the defending champions 20 points behind league leaders Napoli, having played a game more.
“We will do everything necessary to return to the kind of football that suits us best and that we are capable of,” Pioli said after the game. “…There were no signs of a drop in intensity, instead we started badly and finished even worse.
“This is the reality, we have to work. Of course, we won’t win the Scudetto, but we can win the Champions League mini-championship, we can analyze and come back to play the way we can.”
The 57-year-old lamented that his team was not “aggressive, intense, precise, attentive”, stating that this meant he “didn’t work well, making a mistake in preparation. We have fallen too far below our capabilities.
The defeat leaves them just one place and one point ahead of fifth-placed Roma with a game in hand, but questions have been raised if this season’s Champions League campaign has proven to be a distraction.
Milan advanced to the quarter-finals after beating Tottenham Hotspur and were due to face Napoli on Friday in the last eight.
“It’s not like that, it would be serious if we were already thinking about the Champions League,” Pioli insisted. “To get into the first four places is too important.
“The levels of recent performances are not very good, if we are less technical and organized, we play such games. I am disappointed with our work, we have achieved too little in the last three games.
“There’s always anxiety, now we must take advantage [international] a break to raise the level of the game, attention, determination.