Sunday January 5 2014
Allegri: 'Milan relegation dogfight'

Massimiliano Allegri welcomed Keisuke Honda, but warned Milan-Atalanta is “a relegation dogfight.”

The Rossoneri host Atalanta at San Siro on Monday at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“Atalanta are very organised and doing well this season. It’s an important game and we mustn’t forget we have only 19 points. We need to look over our shoulders, as this is a relegation dogfight,” said the Coach.

“We’ve got to start 2014 off the right way, because our table is unimpressive and we need to learn from our mistakes. We cannot afford another slip-up.

“Tomorrow we must do everything possible to win, as the next few months have got to be different from the last few. We must have the humility to acknowledge we’re closer to the relegation zone than the European places.”

On 19 points, Milan are only one clear of Atalanta and five ahead of the bottom three, whereas leaders Juventus have over double their tally.

Allegri has already confirmed this will be his final campaign with the Rossoneri, though it’s reported Clarence Seedorf could step in before the end of the season if the situation continues to deteriorate.

“I was very clear and it was a decision I made last summer. I will not be the Milan Coach next season. You can’t stay at a club for life. I had four years here and think I did well, so I thank everyone.

“The club will choose a suitable replacement for me. Seedorf is a very intelligent player who can have the qualities of a Coach, but they are two very different jobs... I am convinced the club will make the right decision.”

Meanwhile, Adil Rami could make his official Milan debut tomorrow afternoon with Honda in the stands after his arrival from CSKA Moscow.

“We’re doing well on the January transfer market,” continued Allegri. “This team has a good future and with one or two more players can challenge for the top spots next season.

“I am curious to meet Honda and it’ll be good for Milan to have him in Serie A and the Coppa Italia. He is a technical player who will cover an attacking role. He has great enthusiasm, character and the desire to prove himself in Italy.

“It is possible Honda could debut against Sassuolo next week, as I know he trained during the break. He has characteristics that only Valter Birsa brings us in the current squad.”

The Japanese international is unavailable against Atletico Madrid, as he already played in the Champions League this season with CSKA Moscow.

“I think we’ve got a good chance of getting through to the next round. Our objective is to win the Coppa Italia and I want to end my four years at Milan in the best way possible.”

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