Silvio Berlusconi 'hurt' by the way former club AC Milan are being run

Former AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi says it is painful to watch his ex-club as they struggle in Serie A in their first season since his 31-year reign ended.

Berlusconi sold Milan to a Chinese-led group of investors last April, but despite them committing over €200 million to signing 11 new players in the summer, they remain off the pace in Serie A with a 15-point gap to the summit and 12 points between them and the top four.

Berlusconi says he has been disappointed to see how his former club have been run since his departure.

"I've not been back to the stadium since, but when I see Milan on TV, it hurts me," Berlusconi said in an interview on his own Mediaset Canale 5 channel to be aired on Thursday evening.

"I'm very disappointed because I see that the agreements I had taken at the beginning with the new owners, which were taken for the good of the team, are not those I see now. It was foreseen that there would be more sponsors, but they have not arrived."

Berlusconi's remarks come a month after he first criticised his former club, accusing them of spending badly in the summer transfer window and saying that they should not keep coach Vincenzo Montella, who he had never wanted to appoint in the first place.

Montella is still in charge and he has vowed to fight on amid ongoing criticism as they prepare to face AEK Athens in the Europa League on Thursday night.

"The last seasons have been very difficult, and big changes have been made," Montella said at a news conference. "We have to be strong and be able to react in order to revert the situation. We need positive results. I'm convinced we will bounce back if we keep working hard to win.

"I'm calm, I know the risks of this job, but I feel the support of the management. The club needs results and I do as well. The coach is always the one who receives all the criticism, and it's normal.

"I'm trying to do my job the best I can. I was expecting difficulties along the way but so many... Actually, I think I am handling the situation well because, compared to last year, this season's criticism is more justified."

Montella met the media together with Riccardo Montolivo, who denied rumours he is unhappy about his role after being stripped of the captaincy in the summer -- with Leonardo Bonucci handed the armband -- and featuring only fleetingly so far this term.

"In bad times, so many things are said and written," the midfielder said. "We read everything, it takes a great imagination to write some of the stuff we have read. I have a normal relationship with the coach, as I had with many other coaches. It's normal that I want to play more, there is nothing strange about that, but it doesn't mean there is an issue between us.

"Many things have changed compared to last season. The club made an important investment during the transfer window market, thus it's normal that expectations are higher this year. Many new players arrived, and it's normal that the group takes some time to adapt.

"The results have not been as good as expected but we continue to work hard. Europe is AC Milan's home, yet we still have to show that we deserve to be here."

Milan, who are unbeaten in seven Europa League fixtures this season, can move to within a point of qualifying for the round of 32 by winning at AEK on Thursday night. They then travel to Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday before the international break, after which they head to league leaders Napoli.