Massimiliano Allegri believes AC Milan's clash with Sampdoria is a must-win game as the club looks to put its dismal run of form in the past.
Two last-gasp goals earned the Rossoneri a point against Bologna in midweek, although they remain 10 points adrift of current Serie A leader Roma after just five matches. Allegri has urged his side to rediscover its winning ways on Saturday but believes it will be in a position to challenge at the top of the table come the midway point of the season.
"If we have five points from five games, it's my fault," Allegri said at a press conference on Friday. "We have to concentrate on just doing well. We have a difficult game tomorrow. Delio Rossi is an excellent coach and Sampdoria are coming off the back of a good display against Roma. But we have to win.
"I’ll look at the league table at Christmas. I think we will be in a different position by then. We’re a bit behind, but there are still plenty of games left. Let’s just think about winning tomorrow."
Allegri was eager to move on from the fall-out surrounding Mario Balotelli's three-game ban for arguing with officials against Napoli, insisting the striker is aware he must improve his behavior on the pitch.
"His dismissal happened six days ago, I think we need to stop talking about it now," Allegri said. "He’s said sorry, and now he needs to think about working hard. He needs to improve the way he reacts on the pitch. I hope he knows that and understands that."
Striker Alessandro Matri is likely to deputize for the suspended Balotelli on Saturday despite having failed to score in five appearances for Milan this season, and Allegri is confident he will rediscover his goalscoring touch.
"He is working hard. He had three chances against Bologna, two clear ones, but he has to stay calm as the goals will come," Allegri said.