Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has called upon Chelsea’s most experienced players to help turn around the club's fortunes, saying the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry need to stand up and be counted if they are to rescue their season and save Andre Villas-Boas’ job.
The Blues have endured a torrid run in recent weeks, winning just two of their last five games which has left them outside of the top four and put their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League in jeopardy.
Villas-Boas was charged with rejuvenating the ageing Chelsea squad when he joined the club from Porto over the summer, but Ballack, who spent three years at Stamford Bridge, believes that the senior core of Chelsea players still have a role to play, saying they must take the lead if they are to end the Blues poor run.
"They have to do it," The three time German player of the year said. "You can't talk about or just criticise the young players. It always has to come from the older more experienced players.
"There are still enough big and experienced players at the club who speak in the dressing room. I'm sure of that. It's not just one player."
Under Villas-Boas Chelsea have recorded their worst start to a Barclays Premier League season since owner Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, while also suffering back to back defeats at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2002, prompting speculation he may lose his job.
However Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has defended the 34-year-old, insisting it is mistakes on the pitch which is costing them and nothing else.
"The manager is not on the pitch, we are on the pitch and we are making mistakes," said Cech. "He cannot do anything about individual mistakes while he is standing by the bench.”
"So the players are to blame and we know it and we try to make things happen and change. It is not easy but we keep going."