Soccer: Berlusconi backs Allegri, calls for patience

Ex-premier to take care of Milan from 'close quarters' again

Soccer: Berlusconi backs Allegri, calls for patience

Milan, November 16 - AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi on Friday gave under-fire coach Massimiliano Allegri a vote of confidence and called on fans for patience as the team rebuilds. Milan have endured a tough start after selling their best players, Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil centre back Thiago Motto, and bidding farewell to a number of quality veterans, such as midfielders Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso and defender Alessandro Nesta, in the close season. There has been repeated speculation that Berlusconi is considering sacking Allegri, with the seven-time champions in 13th place in Serie A, trailing leaders Juventus by 17 points after 12 games. CEO Adriano Galliani recently found it necessary to deny reports he has met with the entourage of Pep Guardiola for talks on trying to lure the former Barcelona boss to Milan next season But Berlusconi sought to dispel these rumours about Allegri's future during a visit to the seven-time European champions' training facility. "If Allegri is here it is because he has my confidence," the media magnate told Milan's in-house TV channel. "We have to start again but, after 26 years of caviar and champagne, it necessary to have patience". Milan have won five of their seven European champions titles and eight of their 18 Serie A titles since Berlusconi bought the club in 1986. The ex-premier, who has said he will not run for a fourth term at the helm of government in next year's elections, added that he would start having a more direct role in running the club again. "I'm returning with great joy to take care of the team from close quarters," he said. re the squad leave for the trip to Naples. Berlusconi also denied reports he had had talks with Middle Eastern investors about Milan, but he did not completely rule out offloading the team. "Up to today, there have been no negotiations to sell the club or part of it," he said. "First it's necessary to rebuild the team and get winning again. Only then would it be possible to think about selling the club to someone giving the utmost guarantees (about its future)".

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