Graham Potter accepted his Chelsea side “took a step back” after they were beaten at home by Southampton but insisted that his management is not the problem.
The Blues went down 1-0 against the Premier League’s bottom side to stretch their winless run in the league to four matches, showing little sign of building on Wednesday’s encouraging Champions League display against Borussia Dortmund.
Potter’s side struggled to create clear chances against Saints as their troubles in front of goal continued, with some supporters booing the team off at the end of an eighth game in 13 in which they had failed to score.
“After a 1-0 defeat at home, any criticism you get is understandable,” said Potter.
“We’ve had a tough period, we’ve had lots of challenges, integrating young players into the Premier League. Whilst results don’t go your way, it can be tough.
“I’m sure there will be people out there who will think I’m the problem. I don’t think they’re right. I’m not arrogant enough to say their opinion isn’t worth articulating. My job is to help the team keeping working through a tough period.
“The truth is we took a step back in our performance in the first half. The response in the second half was good, but not good enough.
“When we’ve lost 1-0 at home to Southampton, with the greatest respect to them, it isn’t good enough. The first half was as much my responsibility as anybody’s. I thought the performance wasn’t good.
“I thought the second-half performance was better and that we deserved to score. If we score, the game changes around. But 1-0 isn’t good and we’re disappointed with that.”
Chelsea’s day was compounded by a serious injury to captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the second half, with the defender leaving the pitch on a stretcher with an oxygen mask after being kicked in the head by Sekou Mara.
“He’s in hospital,” said Potter. “He’s conscious, he was speaking to his wife. We are obviously really concerned. He’s in the best place and we’ll keep monitoring him.
“I think he was unconscious. We have to take all the precautions we need to take now. It was worrying. It was a horrible incident.”
Chelsea were beaten by James Ward-Prowse’s impressive free-kick in stoppage time at the end of the first half as the visitors won for just the second time in the league since October.
It kept them in touching distance of safety in their fight to stay in the top flight as interim boss Ruben Selles, who stepped in to replace Nathan Jones following the sacking of the Welshman last Sunday, won his first match in charge.
“It’s been a very difficult year for us,” said Selles. “I didn’t have time to invent a new system. I identified with the principles that were there before. I don’t need to tell (the players).
“I don’t think too much about (other team’s results). I think about us and how good we can be. If anybody wants to beat this team, they have to be at their best.”