(CNN) -- The future of Rafa Benitez looks to be hanging by a thread after Inter Milan's owner refused to back the Spaniard in an increasingly tetchy war of words with his under-fire coach.
Benitez had angrily questioned Massimo Moratti's transfer policy in the wake of Inter's 3-0 victory against Congo's TP Mazembe in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup on Saturday.
"Last year, Moratti spent € 80 million [$105 million] on five players, but this year he has spent nothing for me," Benitez told the press after winning his second piece of silverware for the club, having also triumphed in the season-opening Italian Supercup.
"I don't know why that has happened, but it has left me 100% disappointed. I deserve more respect."
Benitez up to his old tricks again
Yet when Moratti was asked the next day on Inter Milan's official website whether the oil tycoon, who has overseen five successive league titles, supported his coach he declined to answer.
"I'm not talking about Benitez now," he said.
The 50-year-old has struggled to win over fans and management alike since taking over from his popular Portuguese predecessor Jose Mourinho.
Inter won the Serie A league title, domestic cup and UEFA Champions League last season under Mourinho before he left for Spanish giants Real Madrid.
In contrast, Inter finished second in their qualifying group in the UEFA Champions League this season and currently lie seventh in Serie A, 13 points behind city rivals AC Milan.
Many in Italy now believe that Benitez's position is untenable, with the front page of this morning's Italian sports newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport declaring: "Benitez is Out."
"You just can't expect to keep your job when you come to a press conference speaking so harsh towards your boss. That would be [the same] in whatever job and it's the same in football," Italian football expert Tancredi Palmeri told CNN's World Sport.
According to Palmeri, the writing has been on the wall since Inter lost 1-0 in the Milan derby last month.
"Moratti already wanted to fire Benitez after Inter lost against Milan. But he thought, 'If I fire him now I will crash the situation [before] the Club World Cup.' He wants to finish [this] now so I wouldn't be surprised if Benitez is sacked before December 23."
But Benitez has insisted that he's not going anywhere, and denied that his sacking was a foregone conclusion.
"Many people that read the newspapers today have called me up to ask me if I had been dismissed," he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
"It's not true, I am surprised that it has been reported as a done thing."