Antonio Conte has insisted that Chelsea players should shouldering some of the blame should the club fail to secure UEFA Champions League football.
The reigning Premier League champions have failed to take the fight to runaway leaders Manchester City this season, and are at a risk of losing a host of stars including Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain lurking for the pair respectively.
The Blues currently sit in fifth position having won just three league games since the turn of the year, ensuring the gap to fourth place Tottenham has stretched to ten points ahead of their trip to Southampton on Saturday.
Chelsea's last opportunity to add shine to a relatively disappointing season lies in the FA Cup, but with Conte's future uncertain the blame game has already started to play out as the Blues manager looks to ensure his players take some of the responsibility.
"If we don't qualify for the Champions League, it means that we have to divide the fault, also with the players," Conte said, via the Daily Mail.
"If you are not able to take a qualification in the Champions League, then you must consider playing next season without Champions League and to stay here and fight for this club.
"I think we must be frustrated. Me, my staff, the players and the club, for this season. We must be frustrated. You start the season with great expectations. Instead, this season, we have struggled a lot. For many reasons, but the truth is we've been struggling.
"I'm the coach of this team. I'm the first person to take my responsibility. But, for sure, I'm not alone. Now is not the right moment. Now it is very difficult to talk about the future. Now I think we must be focused on the present to try to finish the season as strongly as possible. This must be our target.
"Now it is not right to see forward because the present is very important for us - more important than the future."
When asked if it was his responsibility to stay with the club beyond the summer and take them back to Europe's top table next season, Conte said: "This is not my job. Not my job. There is a club to speak about this situation, with me, with the players. I think this is a job for the club.
"The only thing we can do now is try to finish in the best possible way this season. For sure, we made a lot of mistakes this season.
"When I talk about a lot of mistakes, I involve me, my staff, the players and the club. We must reflect at the end of the season and understand where the mistakes were," he added.