(Reuters) - AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri knows if his team do not start picking up points soon the unthinkable will happen and they will lose touch with third place and Champions League football next season.
Milan, who host Fiorentina on Saturday (7:45 p.m. British time), have taken one point from their last two games to renew the almost inevitable speculation about Allegri's future, something he has had to live with throughout the last two seasons.
After his side were held 1-1 at home by Lazio on Wednesday, leaving them 13 points off third spot, Allegri produced the familiar lines Milan fans have become tired of hearing recently.
He complained about injuries, said they performed well, failed to take their chances, lost concentration and made no real mistakes apart from the goal they conceded. And he said they would fight on and do better next time.
"The team played well, created chances and didn't give anything to Lazio," he said. "And after we went ahead we had a couple of situations which we should have made more from.
"We will only get out of this with hard work but, of course, we are getting further away from third place. The teams ahead of us are travelling at an amazing speed and if we carry on like this, it will be impossible to overtake them.
"We must get back to winning... if we play like this, the team has a good chance of getting good results... There are reasons for not getting results but we have had a lot of injuries."
Milan are 10th in the table with only 12 points from 10 games, including a mere three wins.
They need to finish third to earn a place in the Champions League playoff round, something they did by the skin of their teeth last season with a 2-1 win at Siena in their last game.
But they already find themselves cast adrift of Juventus, who are currently in third spot.
Fiorentina, enjoying another impressive season under coach Vincenzo Montella, are sixth with 18 points and have already beaten Juve 4-2 this season.
Roma, who set a Serie A record on Thursday by winning their first 10 games, have a tricky tie at Torino on Sunday (7:45 p.m.).
Second-placed Napoli, who are five points behind Roma, should canter to victory on Saturday at home to lowly Catania (7:45 p.m.), who have failed to keep up the momentum which helped them finish eighth last term.
Champions Juventus, trailing Napoli on goal difference after winning their last two games, are at Parma on Saturday (5:00 p.m.).
(Reporting By Brian Homewood; Editing by)