Maurizio Sarri is playing a dangerous game at Chelsea, challenging his players and the board with his refusal to change his tactics.
A 6-0 thrashing away at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon ramped up the pressure on the Italian, with the former Napoli boss running out of time in London.
The players looked distant and unresponsive against the Premier League champions, with Pep Guardiola’s side finding it far too easy to cut through Chelsea like a knife through butter.
The result has raised serious questions about Sarri’s long-term future at Chelsea and if he’ll even manage to see out the season.
From tactics to potential replacements, we’ve taken a closer look at what could happen at Stamford Bridge if the Italian were to leave his post in the near future.
When could a decision happen?
Rumours about Sarri’s future come at a difficult time for the club. They’re facing a tricky run of fixtures throughout February across different competitions.
Chelsea are not in action in the Premier League now until the end of the month, something that could work in the club’s favour if they want to make a decision on Sarri.
However, with Chelsea only a point behind Manchester United in fourth, it may be deemed too soon.
Zola to replace Sarri?
Gianfranco Zola appears to be the obvious short-term replacement for Sarri at Chelsea.
He is there, ready and waiting, having worked alongside Sarri since the start of the season.
Reports in Italy suggest that this could happen if Sarri is sacked.
Chelsea will be well aware that they are shopping in a limited market if they want to replace Sarri midseason.
Change of tactics?
Sarri has been hellbent on implementing his 4-3-3 system, but it has backfired in recent months and looks like it will ultimately be his downfall.
Whether it be Zola or someone else, a change of system would be absolutely necessary to get the players back on side.
The Blues have become over-reliant on passing for passing sake while also looking to the induvidual quality of Eden Hazard to dig them out of trouble.
What happens to Jorginho?
With Sarri out of the picture, it is hard to see where Jorginho fits into the Chelsea side.
N’Golo Kante would undoubtedly return to a more natural defensive position, which could free up the Italian to possibly play in a more advanced role.
However, his lack of mobility means that this is unlikely to be a successful switch, given the physical demands of the Premier League.
Sarri’s departure could well be followed by Jorginho’s too.
Which players could benefit?
While Kante is the obvious answer, there are more players that could benefit from a change of system at Chelsea.
If the Blues were to become less regimented, the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek would certainly fancy their chances of impressing.
Andreas Christensen has failed to win over Sarri, but the Dane must surely be an improvement on the ageing David Luiz and the unpredictable Antonio Rudiger.
Marcos Alonso has also been ever-present, but Emerson could finally oust the Spaniard as a starting left-back.
Are the club preparing for a squad overhaul?
Chelsea are approaching an important time in the lifespan of the current first-team squad.
Ignoring Eden Hazard in this instance, a number of first-team regulars are approaching the end of the contracts.
Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Pedro and Willian are among the players approaching the end of their deals.
Before you know it, the Chelsea squad could look radically different next season.
The Blues must decide quickly who they want to be at the helm for when those changes take place.
Would it change Hazard's stance?
Eden Hazard appears to have made his mind up over a move away from the club in the summer if reports are to be believed.
He and Sarri clearly have not seen eye-to-eye throughout the season and while many might think a change of manager would help solve the Belgian’s future, he has probably gone past the point of no return.
A move to Real Madrid looks all-but done and unless it’s Zinedine Zidane, Hazard’s childhood hero, coming through the doors at Stamford Bridge, he is unlikely to think twice.
What happens over the summer?
Chelsea could once again be heading into the summer searching for a new manager.
The move not to back Antonio Conte is looking like a decision that has backfired on the club, one that they may live to regret.
The usual names will no doubt pop up on the bookies’ shortlists, with Mauricio Pochettino, Massimo Allegri, Eddie Howe all likely to be mentioned.
Chelsea need to decide what their identity is, or at least what they want it to be. They steered away from it by appointing Sarri and it has not worked.