Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is sceptical of reports a member of the squad would rather lose than win for under-fire manager Jose Mourinho.
The defending Premier League champions are a lowly 15th in the table having lost six of their 11 matches this season, the latest defeat coming in a 3-1 home reverse to Liverpool on Saturday.
Mourinho is under intense pressure as a result of their dismal form and has been handed a stadium ban for Saturday’s visit to Stoke City after admitting to a Football Association charge of misconduct during a 2-1 loss to West Ham.
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Garry Richardson said on Sunday a Chelsea first-team player had told him he would rather lose than win for the Portuguese.
But, appearing as a pundit on Sky Sports, Lampard, who left Chelsea at the end of the 2013-14 season, said: “It’s nonsense if it [players trying to lose] is happening. I don’t believe it is. I don’t think players at the top level can down tools.
“The first responsibility we all had as players: when you go out on the pitch, if you’re downing tools on the pitch, the only one who looks stupid is yourself.
“They are playing for Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in world football, they have to try and produce.
“This is not a great moment, it’s not a moment to flick it around the corner and have great games, it’s a moment for them to knuckle down and win the hard way, which they have to do.
“The rumours with big players, I don’t know. The problem is when you have a hard time, these stories become bigger.
“I don’t think those words would have been spoken but it’s not great that they come out of the club and that’s why results need to change to stop all of that, otherwise it just makes it worse.”
Giving his backing to his former boss, Lampard added: “That’s the intriguing thing at the moment, to see if they stick with him.
“He has got the best record Chelsea have ever had as a manager, he is a world-class manager, I think they should stick with him, but results certainly need to change now.”