Gennaro Gattuso has questioned the mentality of his AC Milan players and believes the club has lost its soul.
The Rossoneri – who suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Lazio in the Coppa Italia semi-final in midweek – are on a torrid run of form in Serie A, with one win in their previous six league games hampering their hopes of securing a Champions League qualification place.
They remain in fourth but are only ahead of Atalanta by virtue of their better head-to-head record and are just one and three points respectively ahead of Roma and Torino.
Gattuso takes his side to the latter on Sunday and has revealed his concern at his players' inability to bounce back from poor results.
"There is a lot to play for," he told a media conference.
"It's an important game for the players, for me, for the shirt, for the whole world of AC Milan.
"We are not going through a good moment. We are struggling and criticism is fair.
"We had a soul when we had problems before, now we've lost it. We knew how to suffer when things weren't going well. Now we've lost all this.
"You can play bad, but if something bad happens we must react, somehow.
"A manager can't punch his players, he has no right to do it. The players need to understand that we can do more. We need to think as if we are one, focusing on the group rather than on a single player."
Franck Kessie and Tiemoue Bakayoko were allegedly subjected to racist taunts by Lazio fans in Wednesday's Coppa Italia match.
There were also reports of inflatable bananas being held up in the away section, while a group of ultras are said to have erected a banner in the streets in the hours before the match praising former dictator Benito Mussolini.
Gattuso has praised Bakayoko's response to the situation, saying he behaved "admirably".
"He is in good shape," he explained. "Those ugly chants are hurtful but Bakayoko was prepared for it. He behaved admirably and didn't lose his temper."