Inter Milan’s season and the future of Roberto Mancini in the Nerazzurri dugout could rest on the outcome of three key fixtures coming up for the club in the next seven days.
The 50-year-old returned to the club for his second spell in charge back in November of last year, but endured a miserable start to life back in the Inter dugout.
A run of just two wins in his first 10 Serie A games saw many backing Mancini to suffer the same fate as predecessor Walter Mazzarri.
However back-to-back victories over Palermo and Atalanta saw the pressure temporarily eased on the Inter manager going into the first leg of the club’s Europa League clash with Celtic.
Yet the resulting 3-3 draw, coupled with the aftermath of the game has seen the situation change.
Inter let an early 2-0 lead slip against the Scottish Premiership champions conceding two goals within the space of a minute and though Rodrigo Palacio capitalised on a Craig Gordon error to put them back in front, the Bhoys were given fresh hope by a 93rd minute equaliser from John Guidetti.
More alarming still were the reports of a row between Mancini and star defender Nemanja Vidic, with the Daily Record claiming that the Serbian was hesitant to come on against Celtic last week.
The Manchester United defender did not enter the fray, with Celtic ultimately levelling things late on to go into the return leg at the San Siro with some hope of causing an upset.
But before that there is the small matter of a Monday night Serie A meeting with Cagliari where all eyes will be on Mancini.
Gianfranco Zola’s team beat Inter 4-1 at the San Siro earlier this season and despite their current form will fancy causing another upset.
Following this Cagliari clash and the midweek meeting with Celtic, Inter then face Fiorentina, another team with ambitions of European qualification.
In a not entirely implausible scenario, Inter could lose all three games and find themselves not only out of the Europa League, but also out of contention for any form of continental football next term.
If that happens Mancini could well pay the price, with the Italian coach in danger of doing his reputation further damage following a short and largely unsuccessful stint in Turkey with Galatasaray.
A Celtic loss would also further reinforce the notion that Mancini is not capable of achieving success in Europe, having previously struggled during his first stint with Inter and then at Manchester City.
The Italian may have left Manchester on good terms with the City support but on the basis of his current form, a return to the Sky Blues should be avoided at all costs.