Chelsea are prepared to give Frank Lampard time to turn around the club's poor form despite mounting speculation over his future, sources have told ESPN.
Lampard is under increasingly pressure after overseeing a summer spending spree in excess of £220 million featuring six signings, several of whom have underperformed in their first few months in west London.
However, there is recognition of Lampard's achievements last season, most significantly guiding the club into the Champions League despite starting the campaign with a FIFA transfer ban preventing the club making any new signings.
The 42-year-old's legendary status as a player -- he is Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals from 648 appearances in a 13-year career which featured 11 major honours -- is also a factor and sources have told ESPN no single candidate has been identified to replace him.
The Blues are reluctant to part company with Lampard but there is alarm at recent results with a top-four spot a minimum expectation after such a huge financial investment, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Lampard has not been given an ultimatum or a timeframe in which to improve the club's fortunes but an FA Cup third round tie against League Two side Morecambe -- assuming it goes ahead with COVID cases rising across the country -- and a Premier League game against relegation-threatened Fulham offer a presentable chance to get back to winning ways.
A major shock in either of those matches would leave Lampard in major trouble, particularly coming after City outclassed Chelsea despite missing a raft of first-team players due to positive COVID-19 tests.
Sources have told ESPN that several Chelsea players have expressed their frustrations at Lampard's tactical approach and there is a view among some that he is yet to establish his best team.
Timo Werner, a £47m acquisition from Red Bull Leipzig, started the season brightly but has now gone 12 matches without scoring. While Kai Havertz, who signed for an initial £62m from Bayer Leverkusen, has struggled under the weight of that price tag.
Lampard will be expected to get more out of his big-money signings, especially with more experienced managers currently out of work.
Thomas Tuchel, sacked by Paris Saint-Germain on Christmas Eve, and Max Allegri, who left Juventus in the summer of 2019, are two obvious candidates while Brendan Rodgers is also thought to have his admirers having impressed at Leicester. Rodgers also joined Chelsea as an academy coach in 2004 and was later reserve team manager before leaving for his first managerial post at Watford in 2008.