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Motivated Robinho offers hope in gloom for Milan

AC Milan's Robinho celebrates after scoring against Barcelona during their Champions League soccer match at the San Siro stadium in Milan, O
AC Milan's Robinho celebrates after scoring against Barcelona during their Champions League soccer match at the San Siro stadium in Milan, O

By Terry Daley

ROME (Reuters) - Massimiliano Allegri is again in the spotlight at struggling AC Milan as the political machinations at the club rumble on but at least Brazilian striker Robinho is trying to look on the bright side.

Milan host Genoa on Saturday having failed to win in their last six games in all competitions and are a lowly 10th after losing five of their 12 league games, collecting a paltry 13 points in the process.

Failure to beat a Genoa side enjoying a three-match winning streak could hasten the end of Allegri's rocky relationship with the club's bosses although Robinho offered an upbeat message for the fans.

He scored the winning goal for Brazil against Chile this week and is clearly keen to impress Luis Felipe Scolari by scoring goals for his club.

"After every match and every training session I feel better adapted to the role," Robinho, who is expected to play alongside Mario Balotelli and Kaka in a front three, said at this week's gala for the charitable Milan Foundation.

"Slowly my understanding with my team mates is improving and that means at the same time that I will be able to take situations in hand like a leader."

Milan are without suspended Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo while injured Stephan El Shaarawy is unlikely to be available until the Champions league clash with Celtic in Glasgow next Tuesday.

Any thoughts of a Milan title challenge are long gone as they are a whopping 19 points behind league leaders AS Roma, but even more worryingly they are 15 behind Napoli who currently occupy the Champions League playoff spot.

Another setback against a Genoa side enjoying an upturn since the return of coach Gian Piero Gasperini would be damaging for Allegri but the fans, it seems do not blame the coach for the current malaise.

Hardcore fans on San Siro's Curva Sud unfurled a banner during the 2-0 defeat by Fiorentina recently criticizing the club's recent transfer policy.

Barbara Berlusconi, club director and daughter of honorary president and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio, appears to agree and wants to revamp the club's management in the summer.

She is already working behind the scenes to bring in a replacement for vice-president Adriano Galliani, who has been at the club since 1986, while Paolo Maldini and Demetrio Albertini are being muted as possible sporting directors.

Almost no-one expects Allegri to still be at Milan come the end of the season but the question is how long he can hold on.

Should results continue to be poor the club may be forced to act as they can no longer count on Berlusconi senior to fund transfer campaigns and need Champions League qualification to swell the transfer budget.

Leaders Roma could be without Daniele De Rossi for their home match with Cagliari on Monday (2.45 p.m. EST) as they look to get back to winning ways and maintain their slender one-point lead over Juventus.

De Rossi is struggling to recover from an injury to his left foot for the match which will see the Sardinian side play for the first time since a brutal storm killed several people on the island and left thousands more stranded.

He could join Francesco Totti on the treatment table, while re-born attacker Gervinho should return from his thigh injury to lead the home side's attack.

Juventus's Mauricio Isla has been ruled out of the champions trip to Livorno on Sunday (9 a.m. EST) and could miss their Champions league clash with Copenhagen with a ligament injury to his right knee.

He joins a worrying list of absentees for Antonio Conte, who is without the suspended defenders Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci, while the injured Stephan Lichtsteiner is out and Andrea Barzagli is a doubt.

(Reporting by Terry Daley; editing by Martyn Herman)

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