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 By Ben Gladwell

Inter Milan must get back on track in Milan derby - sporting director Ausilio

Inter Milan have fallen two points behind AC Milan in Serie A.

Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio feels next weekend's Milan derby could not come at a better time after claiming that the players let the club down in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Crotone.

Inter's second straight Serie A defeat saw them slip two points behind city rivals AC Milan in the race for a place in Europe next season.

With at least a Europa League berth an obligation, Ausilio says he hopes to see an instant recovery on Saturday when Inter host Milan at the San Siro, while he defended Stefano Pioli's record since replacing Frank de Boer as coach earlier this season.

"We still have to get into the Europa League," Ausilio told Inter's official website. "You can't have this kind of approach in Serie A; today we were arrogant and considered ourselves superior. Thankfully it's not just about those first 20 minutes of today's game; we can look at five months of good work.

"It's tough to play here at Crotone but the problem was our approach. We scored and we came close to a second one but we were too late waking up. It's positive that we have the derby, it could help bring about the right reaction.

"Today's game serves as an example. It wasn't an Inter performance, it wasn't a Serie A performance. We have to respect our fans and give 110 percent.

"The match today was crucial for us, as it was for Crotone. They were hungry but we were presumptuous. We deserved to lose. We've fallen short in two games in a week, but let's not forget the five months of good work that we've done.

"This team has quality and that's why today's defeat is unacceptable. In a weird way, a game like the derby is the best one to follow with, because it will increase our focus and intensity."

While Ausilio appeared to point the finger at the players and demand improvements from them, Pioli assumed his share of the responsibility for the result.

"Our approach was all wrong," he said. "We made too many mistakes and it cost us a game where we should have shown a different mentality.

"We tried to come back but there were too many errors in our display, especially in the first 20 minutes. In terms of attitude, this is not what we should be seeing. That means we didn't work hard enough and that's everyone's fault. We needed more focus and precision."

Pioli wants to see a response from his side against Milan and believes all judgement over his performance in charge should be reserved until the season is over.

"Clearly this is a painful defeat," he said. "Making excuses is worthless -- we need a reaction. There is no better time for that than the derby -- that provides big motivation. We all need to take responsibility and show our desire to move up the table. Since I've been here, this is the first time in six months I've seen such big mistakes.

"We absolutely have to end the season as well as we can, and show that we can be the team we know we can. In football, consistency is the key to success and to staying at the top level. We had that for around four to five months but now we've had two unexpected defeats. Clearly we've been unable to keep up our level of focus.

"The overall assessment comes at the end of the season, however, and there's time to show we're not the team that was on show today."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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