Milan coach Clarence Seedorf maintained he is aiming for European football next season, while he rubbished suggestions he might be sacked.
After three straight defeats in all competitions, including a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, black clouds of despair again surround Milan with the club's ultras planning a protest before the clash with Parma on Sunday.
While the protest reportedly will target Milan striker Mario Balotelli and CEO Adriano Galliani, Seedorf's future has also been questioned in the Italian media, not that the 37-year-old Dutchman is worried.
"How many times has a coach been at risk after a few months, despite signing a two-year contract? I am not responsible for the situation that was created. I am here to improve the situation," Seedorf, who was appointed coach in January after Massimiliano Allegri was sacked, told Milan's own TV channel.
"I have a contract, the club has faith in me and I am trying to give my best.
"There was a lot of work to do here, so I am certain that with me the club will construct a strong Milan for future seasons.
"It doesn’t matter if you are not optimistic, because I am."
Milan host Parma on Sunday and desperately need a win if they are to bridge a 10-point gap to fifth-placed Fiorentina before the end of the season.
Fiorentina sit in Serie A's final qualification berth for next season's Europa League, which Seedorf considers the minimum acceptable finish for Milan.
"When I got here, I did not find a team in good physical or psychological shape. We can't think everything will improve straight away," Seedorf said.
"The players are improving but results have not been consistent, so that is what we are looking for now.
"We have to turn the page, target European qualification and focus only on what happens on the field."
Many in Italy have blamed Balotelli for Milan's 5-1 aggregate loss to Atletico in the Champions League's round-of-16 but Seedorf denied the 23-year-old striker would be punished.
"Do I use the carrot or the stick? I only use the carrot," the 37-year-old said.
"When there's the need to check on a situation, I do it, but my philosophy is to face everything with a smile.
"Will I punish him (Balotelli)? I want a rapport between adults, not between an adult and a child."
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|Coach: C. Seedorf|
for M. Essien 8'
for U. Emanuelson 53'
for D. Bonera 66'
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