Frank Lampard is fighting to hold on to his Chelsea job as owner Roman Abramovich considers how long he will have to try to turn around the slump in form that has seen his team beaten five times in eight Premier League games.
Chelsea's latest defeat came at the hands of Leicester City, which left Lampard's team nine points behind the Foxes and off the pace in the race for the top four.
The Blues have three big home games coming up, against Luton Town in the FA Cup and Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley in the Premier League, which offer the opportunity to revive the season.
Lampard has not sought any reassurances over his future, but remains confident he can find a solution to Chelsea's current predicament and knows he must instigate a quick turnaround and close the gap on the top four.
Now 18 months into the three-year contract he was given when he was appointed in the summer of 2019, Lampard overachieved in his first season in charge, during which the Blues could not sign any players, by guiding the club to Champions League qualification and the final of the FA Cup.
Abramovich spent £220million on new players last summer in preparation for this campaign and, although Chelsea comfortably qualified for the last-16 of the Champions League and remain in the FA Cup, their current league position is deemed to be not good enough.
As well as judging whether to allow Lampard to continue, Abramovich will have to consider who would immediately replace the 42-year-old if he made a change during the season.
It is believed that Julian Nagelsmann would be among Chelsea's top targets if Lampard went, but it appears unlikely that the German would leave RB Leipzig before the summer.
That would leave Abramovich with the task of either trying to find an interim coach or hiring an out-of-work coach, such as former Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel or Max Allegri.
Chelsea have been warned off Tuchel in the past, following his run-ins with his previous employers, but it is not clear whether that would be held against the 47-year-old now.
Lampard's departure would split opinion among Chelsea fans, particularly those who still idolise him from the former midfielder's playing days when he became the club's all-time record goalscorer.
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021
Telegraph Media Group Limited