Chelsea's hopes of retaining the Premier League title looked forlorn and Carlo Ancelotti's future equally bleak on Wednesday as the champions' fall from grace continued with a 1-0 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
On a night when Manchester City emerged unscathed from a grilling at Arsenal to draw 0-0 and stay second in the title race behind Manchester
United, Jose Bosingwa's early own goal condemned Chelsea to a fifth defeat in 11 league matches.
In that period last season's double winners have collected just 10 points and have slumped from top to fifth, nine points off the pace.
"I'm still confident but obviously I have to do better because this is not enough what we are doing at this moment," a downbeat Ancelotti said.
"This has been a long time, too long for our club and our team. Nothing is lost though and we have to compete in every competition. But it's very difficult to come back and fight for the title now."
Ancelotti finds himself in good company with several other managers appearing to be skating on thin ice at the end of frenetic spate of Christmas and New Year fixtures.
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson accused his side of a "shooting ourselves in the foot moment" as they went down 3-1 at Blackburn Rovers to quickly wipe out the tonic of a last-gasp win over Bolton Wanderers a few days earlier.
Avram Grant's West Ham United returned to the foot of the table after a 5-0 hammering at Newcastle United while Gerard Houllier's prospects also look bleak as his Aston Villa side fell into the bottom three after a 1-0 home defeat by sixth-placed Sunderland.
Tottenham wasted the chance to strengthen their place in the top four when they went down 2-1 at Everton, meaning it was a tremendous night for leaders Manchester United who have enjoyed full value from their 2-1 home win over Stoke.