Massimiliano Allegri said victory over Chievo was essential to ensure his AC Milan side remain in the title race and hit back at the critics.
Milan moved back ahead of Juventus as Sulley Muntari's early strike secured the three points on Tuesday night and, though the performance was less than impressive, Allegri said the result was the most important thing.
"Tonight it was an extremely important game," Allegri said. "We didn't play well, but if we didn't win then we could definitively drop out of the Scudetto race.
"We brought home a crucial result despite missing so many players. We had to field a 19-year-old and we saw Rodney Strasser, Gennaro Gattuso and Mario Yepes make their comebacks.
He added: "The criticism of Milan has been excessive. Everyone was waiting for us to fall, but fortunately we got back up again. Even when we were four points ahead there was a media campaign against us, as everybody was calling for our defeat.
"This evening the lads were able to keep the Scudetto race alive. Some had already performed our funeral, but we're not dead yet."
There have been reports club president Silvio Berlusconi is considering Allegri's future.
"I often speak with Berlusconi and there are no problems," Allegri said. "He wished us all good luck for the game and he believes in this Scudetto.
"What disappointed me the most is that during this period we are fighting Juventus for the title, but people act as if they are doing something extraordinary while we should be thrown out with the trash.
"We have had so many injuries and played many more games than Juventus. I could not ask for more from these lads."