Berlusconi barbs, not third place failure, may send Allegri packing from Milan

Massimiliano Allegri will not be making a beeline for Silvio Berlusconi’s office today to negotiate a new contract. More likely he will be contemplating a possible future away from AC Milan after his side failed to secure third place on Sunday evening.

A goalless draw at home to AS Roma has left the Rossoneri needing three points at Siena on the final day to ensure they keep Fiorentina at bay and pin down a spot in the preliminary round in the Champions League.

Berlusconi has made it clear on a number of occasions that he will not tolerate the team falling any further behind Juventus. But having not gone head-to-head with their Turin rivals over the previous two seasons, Milan have been superseded by Napoli as the second force in Serie A.

Going into the final round of the season they are a massive 18 points behind Juve and nine off Napoli, who have qualified automatically for the Champions League.

A win over Siena will still leave them eight points worse off than last season, and even a cricket score in Tuscany would not get them close to their previous goal difference of +41 (currently weighing in at +27).

Allegri certainly deserves some sympathy. Not only has he been forced to watch the club sell Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to add to mass exodus of the old guard in the summer, but their replacements were less than stellar.

Two wins in their opening eight matches highlighted the fact that Milan had fallen a long way from Allegri’s title-winning debut season in 2011, and even the thrilling duel with Antonio Conte’s side last season.

A rally in the second half of the campaign coupled with Mario Balotelli’s arrival should be applauded, but the coach has clearly been living on borrowed time. Berlusconi has cranked up the pressure with a number of unhelpful comments about his manager’s ability.

Something of a coach in the stands, Berlusconi has never been afraid to tell the man on the bench how things should be done – just ask Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancellotti, who have both been on the end of some weathering putdowns.

However, the vitriol has reached an all-time low in recent months, even when they looked like catching Napoli. Dropping an already-tired Stephan El Shaarawy in the vital clash against Walter Mazzarri’s side gave Berlusconi the opportunity to claim, once again, that Allegri knew nothing about football, having raised the accusation ahead of the Champions League tie with Barcelona which Milan then won 2-0, only to crash out in the return leg.

There was never going to be an Ancelotti-like dynasty for Allegri who, despite having arrived the young coach with film-star looks, has never risen above the B-list in Berlusconi’s eyes.

The laughing lord of the manor is never going to change his ways when courting big-name personalities and has already mentioned a more flamboyant replacement in Clarence Seedorf for next season.

The midfielder has always been one of Silvio’s favourites but he is still playing in Brazil with Botafogo and, although he would always be able to provide an interesting sound bite, the 37-year-old would not be ready to go toe-to-toe with Conte, Mazzarri, Francesco Guidolin or even Vincenzo Montella with no coaching experience under his belt.

It is hard to see who could come in and do a better job than Allegri with the resources at hand. The team needs strengthening in all areas, attack aside where Balotelli, El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini have scored 42 league goals between. M’Baye Niang looks set to make his breakthrough next season.

However, the midfield (Riccardo Montolvio excluded) is a wasteland of creativity, stocked instead with too many loose cannons such as Sulley Muntari.

In the first half against Roma, the combative former Inter man received a red card after grappling with referee Gianluca Rocchi, when he raced over to remonstrate with the official following a justifiable booking for Balotelli’s late challenge on Mario Marquinho.

Muntari had already clashed verbally with Rocchi before his charge, so it was almost inevitable that a further indiscretion would lead to a yellow card at least.

However, after Rocchi thought he had quelled the player’s ire with a booking he was then manhandled in a spectacularly bizarre incident as Muntari lost all sense of reason and tried to stop the referee reaching into his pocket for a red card.

Strangely enough, the previous week Muntari had shown a comic touch to grab the referee’s yellow card and point it at Balotelli after his team-mate had removed his shirt to celebrate scoring against Torino.

It was an unsavory incident on another hugely depressing evening in the stands, which saw the first-ever Serie A match suspended for racist chanting. Balotelli and Kevin Prince Boateng had been the target from a section of the away support, and after two announcements failed to have the desired effect, the referee called the players to the centre-circle for 90 seconds to halt proceedings.

The game petered out after that but still managed to end on a note of rancor, with Francesco Totti shown a red card for elbowing Philippe Mexes.

Milan even played in a much more adventurous way when down to 10 men, and in the short term Allegri should feel confident of victory at Siena. But after all he has had to put up with, he may not be in a hurry to knock on Berlusconi’s door anytime soon.

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