Jose Mourinho says the press should ask John Terry, Diego Costa and Ramires whether they want him to remain as Chelsea manager.
The champions are 16th in the Premier League after Southampton inflicted a fourth defeat in eight games in front of Blues owner Roman Abramovich on Saturday.
Captain John Terry started for the second time in six matches but the now-familiar defensive failings were all too evident, leading to speculation Mourinho might be sacked, like many of his predecessors.
The 52-year-old, who had a highly successful first spell from June 2004 to September 2007 before returning in June 2013, was adamant he would not be quitting.
“People can say what they want. I think you should go straight to the players,” Mourinho said. “Get a table at Cobham next week – John Terry doesn’t go to the national team, Diego Costa doesn’t go, Ramires doesn’t go. Ask them.
“If they tell you they don’t trust me, [that] is the only thing that can make me resign. The only thing. But not fake sources. The players at the table.”
The Blues boss has repeatedly denied fractures in relationships within the squad, particularly with Terry, who has now publicly spoken of his support for Mourinho.
“We have a big group of players and we have the best manager who we remain behind and we remain together,” Terry told chelseafc.com.
“That is what you do in tough circumstances. I have been here a long time and I have seen managers come and go and if anyone is going to get us out of this hole it is going to be Jose Mourinho.
“And the players will remain together and fight, and keep fighting.”
Chelsea paraded the title and the Capital One Cup through west London just five months ago and the speed of the subsequent decline is alarming.
Terry reckons a lack of confidence is a major factor, but maintains there will be a response from the players.
The 34-year-old added: “It is down to the group of players and the manager to get ourselves out of it and we must do that very soon.
“Generally I think we are looking low on confidence. We are suffering a bit of late but we have big characters in the dressing room and we will remain together along with the manager and get ourselves out of this.”
Chelsea resume after the international break at home against Aston Villa, one of just four teams beneath them in the table, on October 17.
Mourinho is in the middle of the worst run of results of his trophy-laden career, but he remains happy with his handling of Chelsea’s miserable season.
“It makes me understand how big a guy I am,” the Portuguese said.
“I am not afraid. I’m not crying, I’m not desperate. It makes me realise how big I was, how big I am.
“When you win and you win titles and you are champion, life is easy. It’s easy to be proud. It’s easy to be what you are.
“In this moment it’s not so easy and my feelings – I’m so unhappy with the feeling of defeat but I am so happy with myself with the way I am facing this.”