Speculation regarding Maurizio Sarri's future has inevitably intensified following Chelsea's embarrassing 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday.
The highly anticipated clash was as good as over 25 minutes in, after goals from Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and a brace from Sergio Aguero put the champions in a commanding position.
Aguero completed his hat-trick in the second half from the penalty spot, and Sterling added City's sixth ten minutes from time to condemn the Blues to their heaviest league defeat in 28 years.
Roman Abramovich was a man suddenly in the spotlight, and the Russian has shown in the past that he doesn't require a second invitation to send his head coach packing.
The bigger worry for Sarri is that Sunday's shambolic display wasn't the first time his side have been embarrassed on the road. This season the Blues were humbled 4-0 at Bournemouth and were completely overrun in the 2-0 loss against Arsenal.
In seasons gone by, these type of performances have seen Abramovich pull the trigger. Many fans would have gone to bed on Sunday night not knowing if the controversial Italian would still be in charge come the morning, but it appears Sarri's tenure may still have time to run, for now at least.
There is no hiding from the fact that Chelsea's displays in recent weeks - apart from the win over Huddersfield - have been unacceptable. However, there is a defence for Sarri to continue in his role despite the ongoing furore from the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Sarri only took charge of the London side on July 14 2018, just under seven months ago. Now, let's not forget what the Italian has achieved in such little time, whilst also trying to implement an unseen philosophy to the Chelsea squad, Jorginho aside.
A quick reminder to anyone calling for Sarri's head, Chelsea are:
- In the Carabao Cup final
- In the fifth round of the FA Cup
- In the last-32 of the Europa League
It's hardly all doom and gloom, is it?
Although it may seem a long time in modern managerial terms, seven months simply isn't long enough for Sarri to implement his philosophy, so Chelsea must keep the faith despite the recent slump.
Just look at Pep Guardiola when he took charge of Manchester City, people up and down the country were suggesting the ex-Barcelona coach had been 'found out' during his first season in English football, but has since gone on to create arguably the greatest side the Premier League has ever seen.
Jurgen Klopp has started to get Liverpool firing, but has been in the job since 2015. He has been afforded the time to implement his 'heavy metal' style of football, with the Reds now reaping the rewards for their patience with the German by mounting a serious challenge for the Premier League title.
Both of those managerial philosophies, Guardiola's and Klopp's, draw similarities with the so-called 'Sarri ball' - a high-intensity pressing game, involving lightning quick counter-attacks and sumptuous offensive play which is hugely entertaining for all to watch.
Now, Sarri is yet to consistently, or even largely manufacture that at Stamford Bridge, but just look at his Napoli side last season. Arguably the most watchable side in Europe and one that Guardiola described as 'incredible' following their Champions League encounter, all made possible because he was afforded three years in the job.
The trend is there for all to see. Implementing a new philosophy takes time, it takes at least a few transfer windows, it requires heavy investment, but most importantly it demands patience.
Football fans all over the world desire instant success, but sticking with Sarri and showing patience may just prove to be the smartest decision.
The Italian has shown at Napoli that he is capable of delivering, so surely he has to be given the chance to do so? Isn't that why he was appointed in the first place?
Following Antonio Conte's second-season debacle, marred by player revolts and fan displeasure at what was perceived as 'boring football', the controversial but electric Sarri was brought in to provide the Blues' fans with entertainment.
The Chelsea faithful have been entertained to an extent and should not allow recent events to completely overshadow a season that has provided some encouraging signs. Sarri's side have toppled Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham across all competitions - showing they can mix it with some of the best sides in Europe, all whilst his philosophy continues to be implemented.
Those achievements cannot be underestimated, especially when you consider that Sarri hardly had a pre-season with his squad, just two weeks. Furthermore, he had only signed one outfield player, Jorginho, until the recent loan capture of Gonzalo Higuain.
So Chelsea fans, relax. Sarri hasn't turned into a poor coach overnight, given time and money he is capable of turning things around.
Despite this staunch defence of Sarri, the next few weeks will likely be critical for him. With Malmo, Man Utd and Man City on the horizon, it is possible Chelsea could be dumped out of three competitions within the space of a week.
If the unthinkable does happen, the backlash from the Chelsea fans would almost certainly make Sarri's position untenable.
However, in response to imminent calls for Sarri to be sacked, It would surely be harsh, even for Abramovich, to sack a manager that is effectively still competing on four fronts during his first season in English football - and just one game away from winning the Carabao Cup. Although, nobody would put it past him.