Chelsea’s players were not to blame for manager Jose Mourinho’s sacking, says technical director Michael Emenalo.
The defending champions are one point above the relegation zone after losing nine of their first 16 Premier League matches this season.
Emenalo said there was a “palpable discord between manager and players”.
Asked about the role of the squad in Mourinho’s exit, he told Chelsea TV: “It’s very easy to make that inference but it is not one the club accepts.”
Emenalo said the squad consisted of the same group of players who won the league and League Cup “in style” last season while “sweating tears and blood”.
He added: “The players have a responsibility to go out and prove everybody wrong and show a commitment to the decision that has been made to try and get the club up the league table.
“This club is in trouble and something needed to be done.”
Following Monday’s 2-1 defeat by top-of-the-table Leicester City, Mourinho said his “work was betrayed” by his players, with Foxes forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both scoring.
Earlier this season, he said some of his players had shown an “unstable attitude”.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas – who in November denied there was a player revolt – said on Tuesday the players need to justify their “big wages”.
Chelsea face fellow strugglers Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and Emenalo said “competent people” would “help with preparation for the game”.
Former Nigeria international Emenalo, who first joined the club as head opposition scout in 2007, added: “You’re not a big club if you don’t have contingency plans for situations like this.
“Make no mistake about it, the club is working vigorously and actively to make sure a managerial appointment is taken care of as soon as possible.”