What will Inter Milan do with rebel Rafa Benitez?
World, European and Italian champions Inter Milan have been stunned by coach Rafael Benitez’s attack on their lack of ambition.
The Spaniard, after just six months in charge, has called for signings in the January transfer window or else he will speak to his agent about his future.
Here we look at the options Inter president Massimo Moratti has including the possible successors to Benitez if the former Liverpool and Valencia boss is axed as media reports suspect.
Benitez did what Moratti asked and triumphed in the Club World Cup and although the president has labelled the coach’s outburst “inappropriate”, the passion he has shown may convince Moratti that Benitez has what it takes for more silverware.
Changing coach so soon after Jose Mourinho left for Real Madrid in May would cause fresh upheaval in the middle of the season just when Benitez was beginning to turn the corner and get injured players back.
Moratti had hinted he would have considered the coach’s position anyway had Inter not won the Club World Cup given they lie seventh in Serie A after an uninspiring if injury-hit start to the campaign.
The club owner has not appreciated his authority being questioned with Benitez saying he was promised signings in the close season which did not materialise.
The president has demonstrated a decisive streak many times before, sacking Roberto Mancini for dithering in 2008 despite winning the league title.
If the Spaniard was to leave, at least 10 names are in the frame to replace him.
The former AS Roma coach has just won the Russian league with Zenit St Petersburg and would be popular choice for fans given he has no links to AC Milan and is a straight talker.
Did well to make Roma a title-chasing side and had several good battles with Inter. A lucrative contact with Zenit would probably not deter him from the challenge of reviving the European champions.
Former Inter goalkeeping great has said his dream is to coach his old side but after inconsistent spells in Romania and in charge of Catania and Palermo, the current coach of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr lacks managerial pedigree.
A six-month caretaker role might suit, however, and bookmakers give him surprisingly short odds to replace Benitez.
Spent just one season at AC Milan last term in his debut coaching job. Quit after becoming frustrated with Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi interfering.
His links to Milan, also as a player, and the fact his managerial spell was not so successful would appear to count against him but media reports say Moratti admires the Brazilian.
Out of work after leaving Galatasaray in October, former Netherlands coach Rijkaard fits the bill given his history of winning La Liga and the Champions League with Barcelona.
However, the ex-AC Milan player would have to convince Inter fans of his loyalty and having failed in Turkey he has slipped off the radar slightly.
The tough-nut Argentine is a former Inter player and his demanding attitude might just be what club president Moratti feels his players need.
His managerial career in Argentina has been very up and down and he was last at San Lorenzo, leaving in April after a run of poor form.
Moratti was half-interested in Capello before plumping for Benitez and only a resignation from the England boss could facilitate the move.
The 64-year-old has consistently said the England job is his last but that has not stopped media speculation that the former AC Milan, Juventus and AS Roma coach may be tempted to complete the quartet and finally manage Inter.
The Ireland coach, a former Inter manager, could be brought in as a caretaker for the rest of the season as an old hand perfect to steady the ship. He could combine the job with Ireland but his bosses there would have to agree and at 71 he may be too old for the cut and thrust of Serie A.
The former Inter winger now works as an ambassador for the club but has no managerial experience. However, the former world player of the year would command huge respect from the squad as either a caretaker or permanent coach.
Assistant coach to Jose Mourinho and Benitez at Inter, Baresi is Nerazzurri through and through having spent almost his entire career with the club. Brother of AC Milan great Franco Baresi, he might not be high profile enough for some fans as a permanent manager but would be welcomed as a caretaker.
Moratti loves the way Barcelona play and if their coach does not extend his deal with the Catalans, which expires at the end of the season, then Inter would be first in the queue with a caretaker put in charge until the end of the campaign.