LONDON (AFP) - Jose Mourinho's future as Chelsea manager is in suspense over his failure to lift the team out of their alarming slump, according to British press reports on Wednesday.
The Daily Mail said that the Chelsea board was due to meet to discuss Mourinho's position on Wednesday, while the Daily Telegraph claimed the club's hierarchy was drawing up a list of potential replacements.
Premier League champions last season, Chelsea are currently just a point above the relegation zone after losing nine of their 16 matches to date. They have, however, reached the Champions League last 16.
Reports suggest it would cost Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich between £10 million (S$20 million) and £40 million to sack Mourinho for a second time, having previously dismissed the Portuguese in 2007.
Mourinho signed a new four-year contract in August. Chelsea gave him a public vote of confidence in October, but there has been no official communication from the club on his position since then.
Mourinho, whose side host Sunderland in the league on Saturday, was expected to take training as usual at the club's training ground in Cobham, 27km south-west of London, on Wednesday.
Several newspapers, including The Sun, reported that Chelsea's players were angered by Mourinho's claim that they had "betrayed" his work following Monday's 2-1 defeat at league leaders Leicester City.
But midfielder Cesc Fabregas says that it is the players' responsibility to haul the club out of their current predicament.
"We all have to take responsibility," Fabregas said in a Facebook interview. "If you are a big player and you are paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player.
"We can bounce back, 100 per cent. There is enough time to achieve it, but we must start now. It is up to us."
Players were demonstrating a united front in official club publications.
"Last season was fantastic, this season has been tough, but we're looking to turn that around. We're working hard to make things right," centre-back Gary Cahill said in the official Chelsea magazine.
"When things aren't going well, you work even harder and look for a reaction. I'm sure we'll turn it around."
Midfielder Nemanja Matic told the Chelsea website: "We are sad because of the defeat (to Leicester), but we have to keep going, to try to win some games and to recover from this situation which is not easy for us.
"We have to try to be better than we were."