Jose Mourinho has hinted he may promote some of Chelsea’s younger players with the regular first-teamers struggling with confidence.
A 3-1 defeat to Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday left Chelsea 16th in the Premier League going into the international break.
Willian had put the Blues ahead but Saints never looked back after Steven Davis’ equaliser, with Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle completing the damage.
Mourinho believes his team is “very fragile” and crumbles like a “castle of cards”.
He said: “The team emotionally is very fragile. The team is feeling too much the pressure of the bad results, the negativity, the fact every time you make a mistake you are normally punished.
“When we make individual mistakes the team is like a castle of cards that collapses, because mentally the team is in trouble.
“The confidence levels are very low and the team is feeling that a lot.”
Mourinho was apologetic that he cannot play for Chelsea himself and admitted he is uncertain about the reasons behind Chelsea’s downward slide.
He added: “I’m so sorry that I don’t have a game tomorrow. I’m so sorry that I am too old to play and I have no quality to play in a team like Chelsea.
“I am so, so sorry because I would love to play. I don’t know what is good or bad for them in this moment.”
Mourinho refused to analyse individual performances, but denied humiliating Nemanja Matic, a half-time substitute who was hauled off 28 minutes later.
“I don’t do that to anyone in football and in life,” Mourinho said.
Mourinho suggested he would promote younger players, like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, after his senior players’ struggles.
“Clearly it is easy to see that some players are in difficulties,” he said.
“As a manager you have that situation of I like them, I trust them, I keep them, or I drop, I change.
“Maybe the situation is so negative that a young player feels less pressure than when the team is top of the league.”
In a seven-minute exchange with Sky Sports post-match, Mourinho was adamant that sacking him was not the answer.
“If the club want to sack me, they have to sack me because I’m not running away from my responsibility and my team,” Mourinho said.
“This is a crucial moment in the history of this club because if the club sacks me, they sack the best manager this club had and the message is bad results and the manager is guilty.”
He later added in his post-match media conference: “No way I resign. No way. Why? Because Chelsea cannot have a better manager than me.
“I want the best for my club and the best for my club is for me to stay.”