Massimiliano Allegri says AC Milan is battling against relegation and added that Monday's Serie A clash against Atalanta is a must-win match for the Rossoneri.
The 18-time Serie A winners find themselves five points clear of the bottom three as they prepare to return from their mid-season break.
The Bergamo side may have only beaten Milan once in their last eight meetings, but Allegri knows it will be a tough task at San Siro on Monday.
"Atalanta are very organized and doing well this season," he said. "It's an important game and we mustn't forget we have only 19 points. We need to look over our shoulders, as this is a relegation dogfight.
"We've got to start 2014 off the right way because our position in the table is unimpressive and we need to learn from our mistakes. We cannot afford another slip up. Tomorrow we must do everything possible to win, as the next few months have got to be different from the last few. We must have the humility to acknowledge we're closer to the relegation zone than the European places."
Monday's encounter is scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. Eastern.