Sunday was an all-around horrible day for AC Milan.
First, the news broke early in the day that club legend Cesare Maldini had passed away at the age of 84. Then, the Rossoneri went out and played an absolutely atrocious match, losing 2-1 to Atalanta in a match that wasn't as close as the scoreline might suggest.
After the match, manager Sinisa Mihajlovic blasted the team publicly, and then stated that the team would be entering a training retreat effective immediately.
"Two points in four games is unacceptable. I apologize to the fans and I take the responsibility.
We are going into a training retreat to sort things out and try and find a solution. If after 31 rounds of the Serie A season I am still here saying the same things it means that there are weaknesses. There are clearly areas that even with training and commitment we're not able to improve.
If you don't fight, you cannot win. We weren't determined or spirited enough. The match speaks for itself and it's pointless repeating the same things. We were lucky to take the lead but we then should have stepped things up a gear and killed off the contest. We didn't do that and it's not the first time this season."
Mihajlovic went on to state that he had previously warned the players that, if results did not change immediately, steps would be taken to ensure that they did. After the loss, he quickly made good on those words.
Shortly after the manager's comments, the club posted a short statement on their website, confirming the retreat.
The coach, with the backing of the President and the club, has taken the decision to put the team into a training retreat as of today.
This is a move that does not bode well for the club's status at the moment. When you need to take measures as drastic as a retreat in early April, it says a lot about the mindset of the players. However, AC Milan have recorded two draws and two losses in their four matches since defeating Alessandria 5-0 in the Coppa Italia semifinal 2nd leg, which now has them sitting 14 points adrift of third and six points behind rival Inter Milan for the crucial fifth position, which would see them make Europa League without having to qualify.
Even former club legend Rino Gattuso, the current manager of Lega Pro club Pisa, was shocked and concerned by this news.
"I never imposed a training retreat in 15 years nor went into one. Perhaps we wouldn't even have accepted it, even though we lost many games.
There was always a path we could take. We were built to win. That wasn't always the case, of course, such as in my first years at Milan, when things weren't all peaches and cream. But there was a mentality that imposed respect for the club's roles and history.
I don't know what's going on today, but Milan have to retrieve the identity that kept them on top for so many years."
With a crucial match against Serie A leaders Juventus looming this Saturday, this retreat might be a last-ditch effort from club leadership to salvage the season. A loss combined with an Inter win would cement their place in Europa qualifiers, and could cost them the opportunity to participate in the International Champions Cup this summer in the United States. However, it may be too little, too late for the Rossoneri.