Tony Cascarino says Frank Lampard is "walking on eggshells" at Chelsea, and has also warned that struggling £47.5 million ($65m) striker Timo Werner "can't play upfront on his own".
Chelsea slipped down to eighth in the Premier League standings after a 2-0 reversal against Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night.
That result marked the Blues' fifth loss in their last eight matches, with pressure now building on Lampard as he toils to bring the best out of a squad brimming with top-class talent.
A club legend spent over £200 million ($274m) on new recruits in the summer transfer window after delivering an impressive fourth-place finish in 2019-20, but the likes of Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech have so far failed to live up to their hefty price tags.
Chelsea are now in serious danger of missing out on Champions League qualification unless Lampard can address a worrying dip in form, with a home fixture against Luton Town up next in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Crucial top-flight fixtures against Wolves and Burnley follow that meeting with the Hatters, and Cascarino says the current manager must deliver three wins to avoid being sacked by Roman Abramovich.
“It never goes down well when you spend loads of money on signings who don’t work out or are not playing well,” the former Blues striker told talkSPORT.
“Upstairs will go, ‘we’ll give him more money and spend again’, but they get a little bit nervous and edgy about doing that.
“He knows the job at Chelsea is full of criticism and it doesn’t take a lot for that owner to make a change.
“Their performances have been really poor; take the win against Fulham, it was 1-0 and they struggled for long periods of the game.
“The highest team they’ve beaten this season is seventh – they’ve not beaten anybody above seventh.
“Their 3-0 win against West Ham at Stamford Bridge was their best result; they did enough to get over the line, but getting a performance plus a result is a huge problem.
“He’s got three home games now back-to-back, one in the FA Cup against Luton and two league games.
“He has to win them. He might make the end of the season, but if he’s going to make the end of the season he has to go on a run of winning games now.
“He can’t go through getting knocked out of the cup or getting a horrendous result against Burnley or Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
“He won’t survive that, and if the owner thinks, 'we aren’t going to make the Champions League, we’re way adrift of that position'... he knows he’s walking on eggshells.”
Cascarino also weighed in on Werner's loss of confidence in front of goal, with the Germany international's last strike in the Premier League coming way back in October.
“I don’t quite get it because he started well. He got goals in the early part of the season," said Cascarino.
“I think Frank has shuffled way too much; he’s been spinning plates in defensive areas, midfield, the forward line.
“But yes, he hasn’t played well. I’ve seen a lot of Timo Werner from his days in Germany and playing international football, and I know he can’t play up front on his own.
“He’s not the best left-sided player so you are going to have to play like you did in the second half with the two [in attack].
“He’s always played with a big man; that’s when he’s played his best football.
“I referred this before to Michael Owen; Michael Owen would never have been the player he was, and he’d admit this, without Emile Heskey. And that’s what Timo Werner needs to be in that position.
“Frank is going to have to rethink his team and his formation slightly to get the best out of Timo Werner.”