Roberto Mancini has a history of losing his cool during the latter stages of previously successful stints at Inter Milan and Manchester City, which is threatening to occur once again.
Inter have enjoyed two solid spells at the Serie A summit this term, despite having laboured to a hugely disappointing eighth spot last year.
However, a recent winless run of four league games left the Nerazzurri sitting outside of the top three places, resulting in them spending their longest spell below those fabled positions to date.
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A series of spats between fiery boss Mancini and an assortment of officials, journalists, players and coaches during that difficult period has further intensified the scrutiny.
Does the former Lazio and Galatasaray tactician have what it takes to handle the pressure this time around, in order to ride out the storm that has suddenly enveloped him?
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All went swimmingly in the opening weeks of the campaign when Inter claimed five Serie A victories in a row; four by narrow 1-0 scorelines.
Then came a four-match blip which saw the Milanese giants garner just three points, yet they bounced back spectacularly by way of six wins in seven outings thereafter.
But, a pre-Christmas loss to struggling Lazio set off a chain reaction of poor results and unsavoury incidents that have placed Mancini’s position in doubt.
One win in six league contests up to the end of January included an embarrassing derby defeat against a resurgent AC Milan, thus leaving fans exasperated.
Rumbles of discontent over the uninspiring, unadventurous brand of football employed by the Nerazzurri had been burgeoning throughout the season, but were kept at bay when Inter were winning.
All it took was a bad run to cause that unrest to spill over, both in the stands and on the touchline.
Mancini clashed with Maurizio Sarri during Inter’s triumphant Coppa Italia quarter-final against Napoli, a situation instigated by Sarri’s alleged use of homophobic insults in the direction of his opposite number – for which he has since apologised.
The two squared-up while Adem Ljajic was putting the seal on a handsome 2-0 victory; Mancini missed the goal and got sent-off for his behaviour towards the fourth official.
Persistent rumours also surfaced once again over a reported rift between the coach and his star player Mauro Icardi, with the 51-year-old boss suggesting he could have scored a chance that his Argentine hit-man spurned during a 1-1 bore draw with Carpi.
“Even past the age of 50, I would have scored that goal,” Mancini remarked, as reported by Reuters.
“You have to score there, you just have to.
“We have a problem which is that we never manage to score more than one goal in a game.
“It's just no good waiting for the ball to come to you.”
Mancini then had to say sorry to Sport Mediaset’s Mikaela Calcagno after a heated exchange on live television following the Milan derby.
He took exception to several questions during the live interview aired by the channel on January 31, whilst swearing at times.
Flowers reportedly made their way to Calcagno as an apology, but the damage had already been done in terms of Mancini’s very public unravelling.
Aside from Mancini’s evident temper, scoring goals is a huge problem for Inter, as they rely far too heavily on their defence to get them out of jail.
Their February 3 clash with Chievo saw the Beneamata record a 13th Serie A win this season – ten of which ended 1-0 – putting a halt to their four-match winless streak.
In fact, it was Icardi himself who notched the only goal of that game with his 50th Serie A career strike, making it nine this campaign.
But he has been a pale imitation of the player who lifted the 2014-15 Capocannoniere crown alongside Verona’s Luca Toni.
And, not for the first time, speculation has also linked Atletico Madrid supremo – and one-time Inter star – Diego Simeone with the head coach post.
The troubles are piling up for Mancini, and he crumbled when the going got tough during his last stint at the Inter helm.
Of course, he also fought with Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, which shows he has form for losing clarity when it counts.
All is not lost for Inter, even if they don’t win the Scudetto, as a Champions League spot would do nicely for now before targeting greater ambitions.
Whether Mancini will be there to see out the project on his second stay at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza appears unlikely.
Can Inter Milan secure a top three spot this season? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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