Walter Mazzarri can blame the referee all he wants, but the truth is that his Inter side were simply outclassed by Napoli in what was one of the most exciting games of the Serie A season so far.
Speaking after the 4-2 loss in Naples, Mazzarri let loose on referee Paolo Tagliavento (here in English from Four Four Two):
There was a series of terrible mistakes that changed the game. The first card (on Alvarez) was harsh too, as he tripped up.
I saw far worse challenges that were worthy of a card and I think with 11 men against 11 we could've got back on level terms.
Perhaps Tagliavento is unlucky with us, as we've had two defeats all season and both were with Tagliavento making many mistakes.
The other loss was against Roma with a non-existent penalty. We're unlucky with him, it keeps happening to us and maybe Tagliavento is just out of shape.
The decision might have been harsh, but it was far from decisive, and if he wants Inter to improve and climb the table, then the former Napoli boss will have to work on the many areas in which his former club outclassed his current side.
But what can we take from the game?
Walter Mazzarri's impressive record of never having been fired by a club might be about to come to an end very soon if he can't turn things around at Inter.
The Tuscan was hired with the long-term in mind, but coaches have never been given too much time at the San Siro, as his opposite number on the Napoli bench can attest to.
Following the news of Andre Villas-Boas' sacking at Spurs, the club might be tempted to part ways with Mazzarri and bring back a man who was an integral part of Jose Mourinho's successful tenure in Milan. It's ridiculous, it's closed-minded, short-sighted and ignorant of the fact that Inter still need a lot of work whoever's on the bench, but hey, that's football.
Esteban Cambiasso and Fredy Guarin did well in the circumstances, but it was a poor Inter performance at the San Paolo—something that's far from being an isolated event.
For the most part, Mazzarri's players put in C- or D grade shifts. They were slow to react, disorganised and sloppy in possession.
Andrea Ranocchia was abysmal throughout and after dreadful defending late on was lucky not to see Goran Pandev's penalty converted. Yuto Nagatomo got on the scoresheet, but only after gifting Napoli the opener, and while Ricardo Alvarez was good in spells his lack of pace and eventual sending off cost his side dearly.
There's a good reason that they're 15 points off the top of the table, and Champions League football next year now looks extremely unlikely.
Napoli's win was all the more remarkable because they did so convincingly without being at their best.
Several players had excellent spells at the San Paolo, but with the possible exceptions of Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, none of the Partenopei were at their best.
Napoli could have easily had a couple more goals on the night and Benitez will no doubt feel that they could have done so without conceding the opening goal so easily, too.
Goran Pandev did well to win a penalty shortly after coming on as a late substitute—only to blow the good will by snatching it from Insigne and then missing.
The Neapolitan is the side's spot kick taker, as well as being a local boy. He deserved to get on the score sheet after an excellent display in front of the San Paolo crowd. It's a brave man who takes that away from a fan favourite in southern Italy.
It wasn't so long ago that a similar situation ended very badly for Dani Osvaldo at Roma, and the former Inter forward will be hoping that the fact that his side still managed the win will help distract people from his selfish blunder.
If he does manage to keep his job, Mazzarri should try not to dwell on the fact that his switch from Naples to Milan seems to have backfired.
Obviously, he felt he'd gone as far as he could with Napoli, and made the not-unreasonable assumption that the size and stature of a club like Inter would allow him to reach the next level.
His Nerazzurri are still very much a work in progress, and for now at least, it's his old club who look like the heavyweights.
They conceded too easily, but at the other end Rafa Benitez' Napoli were ruthless against Inter, showing all the potency and control that their opponents currently lack.
Both the Partenopei and their current boss had a point to prove against the Milanese side. The team will have wanted to show their old boss what he was missing, and the Spaniard will have wanted to prove that Massimo Moratti made a mistake by relieving him of his duties on the Inter bench. Job done on both counts.
Samir Handanovic conceded four times in Naples, but was at fault for none of the goals.
The Slovenian did his best to keep Inter in the game and made a fine save to stop Pandev's late penalty, but there's only so much a keeper can do—even one of his undoubted quality—behind a defence that plays so poorly.
Ranocchia in particular was dreadful, and it's a wonder he's still getting games for Inter and Italy. Hugo Campagnaro was shown up by Insigne in particular and failed to influence the game in any meaningful way.
Rolando wasn't an awful lot better, though he did make one crucial interception to stop Gonzalo Higuain from scoring. Nagatomo was at fault for the first goal and Jonathan was extremely lax in his defensive duties as he looked to support the attack.
Handanovic deserves better, and if he was served by a more organised and capable back line Inter would keep more clean sheets and almost certainly occupy a higher spot in the league table.