Milan: With a certain air of inevitability, AC Milan have slumped into a mid-season crisis and coach Filippo Inzaghi is falling into the same trap as predecessors Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf.
Allegri and Seedorf were sacked last season, both victims of a combination of unrealistically high expectations at the seven-times European champions and a lacklustre squad.
Inzaghi, promoted from the under-19 team for his first senior coaching role, has found himself facing exactly the same problems.
Milan were jeered off the San Siro pitch on Sunday after a 1-0 home defeat by Atalanta, their second successive Serie A reverse at home to opposition from the lower half of the table.
Although Inzaghi`s side enjoyed some good performances before Christmas, including a 2-0 win over Napoli, they completed the first half of the season with six wins from 19 games and lie a modest eighth with 26 points.
On Monday, Italian media reported that chief executive Adriano Galliani would visit the Milanello training camp for crisis talks with Inzaghi although there was no suggestion that the coach`s future is at stake.
"It`s only right that I am under observation, I have to try and make this team play like they were before the break," said Inzaghi. "The team is feeling the tension.”
Once-mighty Milan have been left standing by domestic and international rivals who have stronger youth programmes, better scouting and clearer philosophies of how to run their club.
At the end of the 2011/12 season, Milan came to the inevitable conclusion that, like the rest of Italian football, they could not longer compete with the financial firepower of clubs from England, Spain, France and Germany.
After selling off the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, they promised to invest in youth, yet instead became a refuge for players looking to revive their careers such as Mario Balotelli, Kaka, Fernando Torres and Michael Essien.
Torres, initially signed on loan from Chelsea, managed only one goal in 10 league appearances before moving back to his first club Atletico Madrid in a loan swap for Alessio Cerci in January, another off-form striker.
Cerci`s contribution on Sunday was limited to a row with team mate Ignazio Abate before being substituted at halftime.
"Nothing happened between Abate and Cerci. But when a side isn’t able to get a result, it can happen that the team gets angry," said Inzaghi. "There is still the entire second part of the season to play. Nothing is lost."