Roberto Mancini is ruining his reputation at Inter Milan

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Just when Roberto Mancini thought his second managerial spell at the San Siro couldn't get any worse his Inter Milan side succumbed to another disappointing defeat, crashing out of the Coppa Italia at the quarter-final stage after Gonzalo Higuain's 90th minute goal secured Napoli a 1-0 victory last night.

The Argentine striker pounced on a mistake by defender Andrea Ranocchia and converted a curling stoppage-time effort to condemn Inter to a third consecutive loss, leaving them with an unenviable record of just two wins from their last 12 competitive games.

Mancini was heavily critical of his players in the aftermath of Wednesday's encounter in Naples, accusing them of lacking concentration and acting "like chickens" which ended in disaster at Stadio San Paolo.

"You just can't concede a goal like that. I'm shocked," he was quoted saying by BBC Sport. "We played really well throughout the game and we're growing as a team but we can't afford to make so many mistakes.

"Every time we go and hand the opposition a free goal. We were far too lax. Higuain is a smart player and he nipped in there before anyone else on the throw-in. We were like a bunch of chickens, it was five against one. It was a ridiculous goal to concede."

The scathing comments give perhaps the clearest indication yet that all is not well in Mancini's world, with a growing feeling that he doesn't have the situation inherited from Walter Mazzarri under control, especially off the back of Sunday's shock 3-1 defeat against Sassuolo.

It represented the Serie 'A' minnows first ever victory over Inter, banishing the mental scars from two emphatic 7-0 defeats they suffered against the same opponents since gaining promotion to the top-flight in 2013.

That setback was another unwanted blemish on Mancini's diminishing CV which has culminated in a terrible return of just ten league points from the same number of games under the former Galatasaray boss' tutelage, leaving the club languishing in 13th place in the table.

The bad news for Nerazzurri fans is that things will probably get even worse before they can start to get better, with Inter currently operating under tight financial restrictions following owner Erick Thohir's decision to part ways with Mazzarri, months after handing the previous manager a bumper new contract.

Bringing an end to his ill-fated tenure has come at a significant cost to the Italian giants and the repercussions of that are still being felt by Mancini, despite the fact he has managed to add five new players to his squad during the January transfer window.

The size of the task to re-establish Inter in the higher echelons of the division is beginning to dawn on Mancini, and at the moment it's unclear whether the 50-year-old has the hunger, or is indeed capable of turning things around.

Mancini returned to the club in November to much fanfare following a highly successful first stint in charge between 2004 and 2008, winning three consecutive domestic titles as well as two Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana trophies. But, despite making a positive early impression this time around the feel-good factor has quickly subsided after overseeing a paltry four victories from 14 games in charge so far.

A 1-1 draw in the Milan derby provided supporters with initial reason to be optimistic after Joel Obi cancelled out Jeremy Menez's opener to ensure a share of the spoils in that Serie 'A' game, and the Italian tactician followed that up with a 2-1 victory over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk which guaranteed progression to the last 32 of the Europa League after securing top spot in Inter's group with a game to spare.

However, fast forward two-and-a-bit months and the overall picture looks far less positive as Inter's Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread with a huge 13-point gap between themselves and Napoli, who currently occupy the third and final qualification place in the table.

In truth, they should probably be looking over their shoulders with only eight points separating themselves and Chievo, who are precariously placed at the top of the relegation zone. The gulf between Inter and runaway leaders Juventus is also widening, and at 24 points with 17 games remaining is double the difference from when Mancini took over less than three months ago.

The biggest problem Mancini is now facing is the fact this poisoned chalice risks ruining the reputation and legacy he's spent so many years building, with all the memories of the previous good work likely to be clouded by more recent failures.

Ultimately it could have a negative impact on the former Manchester City manager's aspirations to return to work in the Premier League, with fewer and fewer clubs likely to take a chance on him with an increasingly poor track record.

Mancini might live to regret last night's metaphor regarding his side's mediocre defensive performance as he faces up to the consequences of his own managerial mistakes. The chickens are coming home to roost.

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