Carlo Ancelotti faces the sack after only his first season in charge of Chelsea if he fails to deliver the Premier League title.
Roman Abramovich was angered at Chelsea's failure to perform as they exited the Champions League to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan this week, and Ancelotti admitted in the aftermath that his job was under scrutiny.
"I've worked for a long time in this environment and I know exactly what the expectations are," he said. "It's normal that a manager is going to come under pressure if he loses a few matches."
Soccernet sources close to Abramovich have confirmed that the Chelsea owner called a team meeting to express his frustration with the players after the defeat and that Ancelotti will have to win the league to survive the axe.
"Roman was upset with the players, for sure," the source said. "He called the players to a team talk.
"[Ancelotti's future] now depends on the league. He will need to win the league to survive."
Yet, should Ancelotti leave, Abramovich is running out of options for a replacement, with Guus Hiddink already having accepted the Turkey job.
Frank Rijkaard, currently with Galatasaray after spells with Netherlands, Sparta Rotterdam and Barcelona, could come into contention for the role once more, according to the source.
"Roman wouldn't have Mourinho back, that's for sure," he said. "Rijkaard was a candidate before, but he decided he didn't want to take the job."
It has been widely suggested that Abramovich could now be willing to fund an overhaul of the squad this summer, but he is unwilling to join Real Madrid and Manchester City in paying hugely inflated fees.
Fernando Torres has been strongly linked and the Spain striker will be the top target if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League, but the source believes Chelsea will be priced out of the bidding.
He told Soccernet: "Of course Roman wants Torres, but he will not pay even £50 million for him, and Liverpool will be asking more than that. If the situation stays the same at Liverpool then they will have to consider selling Torres, but you will not be able to get him for £50 million. How much? No one knows yet, as Liverpool have yet to decide to sell him."