Massimiliano Allegri admits the only way Juventus can turn their season around is to approach the big matches with less trepidation after losing 2-0 to AC Milan on Sunday (AEDT).
Juve’s recent run of results, which saw them claim their first wins of the season against Bologna and Maccabi Haifa, came to an end at the San Siro.
Fikaj Tomori’s first goal late in the first half was added by Brahim Diaz, who ran half the length of the pitch before slotting past Wojciech Szczesny.
Eighth-placed Juve risk relegation to the bottom half on Monday (AEDT) depending on other results, having collected just 13 points from their opening nine matches.
Allegri, who has been criticized for his tactics this season, admits his side took a step back against his old club AC Milan.
“After today’s game, I don’t have much to say,” he said. “We’re at a point where it looked like we’d come out of a slump with these two wins.
“But we got caught again. It’s a pity, the first 20-25 minutes we had a good time, then we climbed deeper and deeper, without even forcing ourselves.
“We made a lot of silly passes and inevitably you will pay for that.”
The defeat was Allegra’s first against a team coached by Stefano Pioli in the 17th meeting between the pair in Italy’s top division.
It leaves Juve without a win in their first four league away games for just the second time in the last 40 campaigns, the second occasion coming in the 1993-94 season.
Asked if his team was struggling physically this season, as vice-president Pavel Nedved suggested before the game, Allegri said: “I think it’s also psychological.
“It’s not easy at the moment. We dropped a lot of points against lower mid-table teams and then in those big clashes we needed more confidence.”
Juve were unhappy that Tomori’s goal was saved after Theo Hernandez fouled Juan Cuadrado as he raced up to take the corner from which he scored.
Diaz’s second strike was also preventable: the AC Milan forward picked off Dusan Vlahovic’s poor pass, flicked the ball past several players and into the net.
Earlier, Milan hit the post twice through Rafael Leao to score and finished the game with an expected goal return (xG) of 2.35 compared to Juve’s 0.75.
It shows a big gap in quality on the day and Allegri has called for improvement for Wednesday’s (AEDT) UEFA Champions League clash with Maccabi Haifa.
“It’s a shame we conceded because of our own mistakes in both goals,” Allegri said. “We need to keep calm, roll up our sleeves and go to Haifa with mental strength to win.
“It’s amazing because at a certain point we just stopped playing and started to back off. After Leoa hit the post, we started to back away.
“There are also some shows that just can’t go wrong. It’s not like two good games can solve all problems.
“Some of our attacks were five-on-three; we need to score goals in these situations. We must be more determined in challenges and get rid of fear.
“If we don’t do that, we won’t have the balance to go far this season. If we get rid of fear, we can turn things around.
“If you pass the ball back, the other side will push forward and you don’t even have to put as much pressure on you. We need to work on that and improve.”