Linked with a shock return to Anfield earlier in the season, former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez could be on his way out of Napoli after the Partenopei extended their winless run in Serie A to four games with a 2-0 defeat against AC Milan.
Goals from Jeremy Menez and Giacomo Bonaventura in either half condemned the Naples club to defeat despite the visitors registering eight shots on target to the Rossoneri’s four.
The loss now means that Napoli have picked up just three points from the last 12 available in the Italian top flight and remain 12 points off leaders Juventus heading into Christmas.
They are also two points off a Champions League qualification spot with four teams ahead of them in the battle for that much-coveted third spot.
Milan have also now drawn level with Benitez’s team and Azzurri owner Aurelio De Laurentis may now be losing patience with the Spaniard, following a slow start to the domestic campaign that saw Napoli exit the Champions League at the qualification play-off stage.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, in quotes republished by Football Italia, after the game, Benitez was also downbeat about Napoli’s chances of qualifying for Europe’s premier cup competition.
"Clearly we need to win our games to get closer. It’ll be increasingly tough to get third place, but we knew Serie A was a very difficult league," he said.
"I remember the game against Roma was not long ago [which Napoli won]. We showed character, quality, hunger to win. We know this side lacks consistency, especially in attack, compared to last season. We now have more shots on goal than anyone else, but don’t score as many goals."
The Naples club won just one of their first four games in Serie A this term and though they subsequently enjoyed an upturn in form and cruised through the group phase of the Europa League, recent results have been disappointing with Napoli dropping points at home to Cagliari and Empoli over the past few weeks.
After another summer of investment, those behind the scenes could therefore decide to call time on Benitez’s tenure, having previously been unhappy at the slow start made to the season.
The Spaniard has been linked with a shock return to Liverpool, where manager Brendan Rodgers is under increasing pressure following a poor run of results.
Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester United was the Reds’ third game on the trot without a win, while the loss has left the Merseysiders 10th in the Premier League and seven points off a Champions League qualification spot.