Chelsea captain Gary Cahill has leapt to the defence of under-fire manager Antonio Conte following the Blues’ humiliating 4-1 defeat to Watford.

Following the loss at Vicarage Road, which followed a 3-0 drubbing at home to Bournemouth, Conte’s position has become under increased pressure. Despite insisting he was “not worried” about being sacked, another successive loss could see the Italian’s position become untenable at Stamford Bridge.

According to Cahill, however, it’s the Chelsea players themselves who must shoulder the blame for their recent abject performances. Addressing the sack rumours surrounding his coach post-match, the 32-year-old said: “Whatever is decided, the players have to take responsibility because the manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job.”

Cahill: “The lowest I’ve felt for quite a while”

Indeed, the centre-back recognised that the Blues’ defensive performances have been woefully inadequate in recent weeks, conceding seven goals in their previous two outings. Cahill admitted that he is feeling “the lowest [he’s] felt for quite a while”, adding that he “didn’t recognise” himself or his teammates in their “abysmal” defeat.

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That being said, the experienced England international called for unity in the face of the current adversity his teammates find themselves in, stating: “I’ve been here before at this club and we need to keep strong. It’s about staying calm – it hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.

“We need to look in the mirror.”

Up next for the Blues is a must-win home fixture against West Brom on Monday; failure to turn in anything but a convincing win could well spell the end for Antonio Conte’s tenure in West London. With his charges facing a rare full-week turnaround, the Italian has given his players a three-day break in the hopes they will return feeling refreshed and ready to fight for the man who led them to Premier League glory only last year.