Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the current campaign will be his last with AC Milan after the manager watched his squad struggle mightily during the early stages of the Serie A season.
BeIN Sports passed along comments the 46-year-old boss made to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. He talks about leaving a strong squad in place that only needs a couple tweaks to get back on track moving forward:
I can be certain this is my last Christmas at Milan. But I got there despite many people doubting I'd manage that. I leave a good team that earned the love of the fans. A team that with a few adjustments will have a future.
Allegri also discussed how the roster was never healthy enough for him to make the most of his initial success with the club, which included a title in 2010-11, and how four years with a single club is a long stay in today's world:
The real regret is that I never had all the players at my disposal. The first choice full-backs were practically never available at the same time. We didn't make mistakes in the medical staff, as we consulted with some of the best specialists in the world and it makes me angry that our doctors are under attack.
I have always worked with enthusiasm and will continue right to the end. Why am I leaving? I decided the day it was made official I'd remain for one more season. I liked the idea of staying and finishing the job, but four years in one club is a long time. I don't know who will be the next Milan coach and it's not my problem.
Sky Sports reports Clarence Seedorf, who spent a decade playing in the midfield at San Siro, is viewed as one of the contenders to take over once Allegri steps aside:
Dutchman Clarence Seedorf, a former Milan midfielder, has been heavily tipped to take the reins in the Italian media but Allegri is not looking that far ahead and is hoping to win the Coppa Italia to secure European football in his final season at the San Siro.
Along with the Serie A title, Allegri also helped Milan capture the Supercoppa in 2011. It marked a tremendous debut campaign for the manager who arrived from Cagliari.
With instant success comes even higher expectations, however. Supporters were hoping the domestic success would also lead to trophies in European competition with the club still remaining in contention annually in league play.
Allegri wasn't able to achieve that type of success, although Milan are still alive in this season's Champions League. A Round of 16 matchup with a talented Atletico Madrid side will pose a very difficult test, though.
More pressing is the club's current place in Serie A. Milan are in 13th place, 12 points behind rival Inter Milan for a European berth, which means Allegri and co. have a lot of ground to make up before the end of the campaign.
The lack of league success is probably why Allegri felt the need to make it clear he plans to step aside with half of the campaign still to play.