Antonio Conte told the Chelsea board after defeat by Watford on Monday night: sack me if you want.
The Blues were subjected to an embarrassing 4-1 loss, their second heavy defeat inside a week to leave Conte hurtling towards the exit door.
And in an emotional post-match press conference, Conte – who questioned whether his players had big enough personalities to play for the club – insisted he does not fear the axe and even challenged the club to pull the trigger if they believe he is not good enough.
‘No, I’m not worried. I’m not worried about my job,’ said Conte.
‘I work every day, and I give 120 per cent. Okay? If this is enough, it’s okay.
‘Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. But I’m not worried. Tomorrow is another day. I can be the Chelesa coach or not. Which is the problem? My soul is clear.
‘I go to sleep without a problem that maybe, maybe, I could do this or that. I try to do everything. If it’s not good, the club can make a different decision. Life goes on.
‘To play football in a great club, it means you must have a personality because it’s simple to play when there is the confidence.
‘Especially in this type of moment, you can see who is (ready to play) for a great club. To play with personality and also to risk something.’
Conte is virtually certain to depart his role as Blues manager before the start of next season.
The Italian, privately, is resigned to his fate despite recent comments suggesting he would be open to extending his deal.
Last week, the club’s hierarchy were minded to make the inevitable change at the end of season – even after the humiliating 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth last Wednesday.
With Chelsea still in charge of their own fate in the race for a top-four position, still in the FA Cup and a Champions League last 16 tie against Barcelona on the horizon, the board felt Conte still had enough enough credit in the bank to see him through until the end of the season.
But the humiliating result at Vicarage Road leaves owner Roman Abramovich with a big decision to make ahead of Monday’s clash against West Bromwich.
Indeed, players are convinced Conte will not be at the club next season, while some individuals will not be overly upset to see the back of the Italian.
Members of the squad have grown tired of Conte’s ‘bad moods’ at the training ground.
They have complained of monotonous training sessions. There is also a feeling among members of the squad that the training schedule has not been scaled back enough this season given their involvement in the Champions League.
On suggestions he is losing the dressing room, Conte answered: ‘But do you think that a club can decide to sack a coach if there is not the support of the players?
‘You think that the players have this power? Yes? This is wrong. This is wrong. If this happens, okay.’