Antonio Conte was hanging on to his job on Tuesday despite increasing player unrest at Stamford Bridge.
There is major dressing-room tension at Chelsea but Conte insists he will not be forced out of his job.
Conte has privately acknowledged he will not be Chelsea manager next season but he is refusing to walk away, preferring for owner Roman Abramovich to decide his fate.
Conte has 18 months left on his current £9million-a-year contract and will be due lucrative compensation if he is sacked.
In addition to fighting for his job, Conte is facing a battle to appease some unhappy stars who have grown tired of his methods.
Some find Conte’s training regime repetitive and monotonous. Similarly, players have blamed the tension at the club’s Cobham HQ on Conte’s ‘bad moods’.
Conte, it is understood, launched into a furious dressing-room rant after last week’s home defeat by Bournemouth – perhaps understandable given they had just lost 3-0 at home.
Players have privately complained of fatigue, blaming the manager’s intense training schedule. The fact the squad have suffered a number of muscular injuries this season indicates they are being overworked.
Conte responded on Wednesday by giving the squad three days off, also allowing himself some down time.
Chelsea don’t play again until Monday night when they welcome West Brom.
The Chelsea board know Conte’s departure is inevitable, but they would prefer to part with him at the end of the current campaign.
With Chelsea still in charge of their own fate in the race for the top four, still in the FA Cup and Champions League, the board feel Conte has enough credit in the bank to see him through until the end of the season.
However, Chelsea’s two horror defeats on the spin – the embarrassing 4-1 loss at Watford following the Bournemouth collapse – has opened up the possibility of him being dismissed before the end of the season.
A third consecutive league defeat could leave the board with no choice but to bring his exit forward.
How long Conte remains in charge is likely to depend on whether Abramovich can appoint the man he wants to replace Conte.
Luis Enrique is the overwhelming favourite as the former Barcelona manager is out of work and would be available immediately.
Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri has his admirers but luring him away from Serie A mid-season would be problematic.
Thomas Tuchel is another candidate. Like Enrique, the former Borussia Dortmund coach is unemployed and would be easily obtainable.