AC Milan's sluggish start to the new Serie A season sparked a wave of speculation over the future of favourite son and head coach Gennaro Gattuso.
Three straight competitive victories have since provided a measure of calm, but an unwanted result in Sunday's derby with Inter could give rise to more discussion regarding the club's current direction.
Defeat would leave the Rossoneri seven points adrift of their city rivals and pile the pressure back on Gattuso, whose managerial experience is dwarfed by cross-city rival Luciano Spalletti, as well as Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli.
Milan, now guided by former players Leonardo and Paolo Maldini, are not short on options should they seek a change, with the five men below all boasting compelling credentials.
"I can't think of Antonio Conte or who will arrive," Gattuso replied in September when asked if the spectre of the man persistently linked with his position was affecting his work.
It is difficult to think the incumbent will not have paid at least a passing thought to the former Juventus and Italy boss, whose availability after an acrimonious split with Chelsea seems to have instigated the uncertainty over the Milan hot seat.
Conte's return of three titles in as many seasons with Juve makes him an attractive prospect for any Serie A side, and he would perhaps offer a level of tactical maturity the more inexperienced Gattuso cannot yet match.
Should they covet his services, Milan might have to make a move sooner rather than later, given Real Madrid are reportedly keeping the 49-year-old in mind.
2.14 - Antonio Conte averaged 2.14 points per game as a manager in the Premier League; only Sir Alex Ferguson (2.16) and Pep Guardiola (2.34) have averaged more in the competition's history (min. 10 games managed). Ciao. pic.twitter.com/UuI7atnlVD— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 13, 2018
If Gattuso is not working out, why not turn to a man at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to experience and appoint the stately, and still unemployed, Arsene Wenger?
Wenger was touted as an option soon after Milan's recruitment of Ivan Gazidis as chief executive from Arsenal, where the pair worked together for almost a decade.
The decorated Frenchman this week revealed he would be ready to return to work in January after receiving offers "from all over the world", with Bayern Munich and Madrid both mentioned as possible destinations.
7 - Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup seven times, more than any other manager in history. King. pic.twitter.com/yziojNGbFZ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018
If the derby does turn sour and elicit a rash response from the Rossoneri hierarchy, Roberto Donadoni could provide a safe pair of hands to stave off further instability.
The 55-year-old former Milan midfielder left Bologna in May with his reputation generally enhanced from a three-season stay, having previously spent a similar stretch with Parma.
Donadoni's failures in charge of Italy and Napoli do cast some doubt over his ability to handle grander responsibilities, but his ties to Milan are as strong as those making the decisions.
Milan's prolonged absence from the Champions League has robbed them of the glamorous sheen that Zinedine Zidane could certainly replenish.
No available head coach knows as much about winning in Europe than Champions League specialist Zidane, while the prospect of proving he is capable of claiming silverware without a readymade squad could intrigue the ex-Serie A star.
His bond with the Bianconeri makes the idea of a union with Milan complicated, but Zidane clearly has the insights that could turn a team rippling with unrealised potential in genuine contenders.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Patrick Cutrone and Franck Kessie are among a crop of young talents at San Siro that suggest a bright future lays ahead.
Leonardo Jardim, suddenly on the hunt for a new project after diminishing resources at Monaco undermined his plans, has a proven skillset attuned to fast-tracking that kind of group into unexpected title winners.
Kylian Mbappe was the pin-up boy of the entertaining Jardim side that toppled Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 and captured Europe's attention in 2016-17, achievements that will have not gone unnoticed by the movers and shakers within the continent's top clubs.
22 de enero 2019
|Henry´s Monaco dumped out of Coupe de France|
|Qatar can win Asian Cup, says Sanchez|
|Tim Howard to retire following 2019 MLS season|
|Koscielny backs Bellerin to return from injury ´stronger than before´|
|Chiefs fire DC Bob Sutton after AFC Championship loss to Patriots|
|Reyes returns to Spain with second-tier strugglers Extremadura|
|Emiliano Sala: Profile of Cardiff City striker missing after joining from Nantes|
|Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut|
|Nuno fined over pitch celebration in Leicester win|
|Nadal unfazed by another Next Gen opponent in Tsitsipas|
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|
|Thompson sets NBA record with 10 straight made three-pointers to open game|
|76ers hand Rockets largest loss of season, Harden scores 37 points|
|Tsitsipas overcomes Bautista Agut to continue Aus Open run|
|Barcelona move a ´dream come true´ for Boateng|
|Rams coach McVay on Gurley: I´ve got to get him more opportunities|
|Butler´s sprained wrist not expected to keep him out ´long term´|
|Saints owner Benson will ´aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies´|
|Levante to take Copa case to CAS|
|It can happen – Allegri plays down Ronaldo penalty miss|
|Mavericks´ Doncic becomes second-youngest player to record triple-double|
|Yankees send Sonny Gray to Reds|
|Ashley Cole reunited with Frank Lampard at Derby County|
|Arnold ready to mix things up in 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals|
|Arum: Joshua desperately needs to fight in the United States|
21 de enero 2019
|South Korea v Bahrain: Bento optimistic of continuing unblemished campaign|
|Bolton Wanderers 0 West Brom 2: Baggies bounce up to third after tennis ball protest|
|Confident Moeen ready to shine for England in the Caribbean|