Carlo Ancelotti has urged former employers Chelsea not to make successor Andre Villas-Boas carry the can for the struggles of their "old" team.
Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat by Liverpool was new boss AVB's fifth loss in his last nine matches, and he now faces a make-or-break spell of three games in nine days against Newcastle, Valencia and Manchester City.
But Ancelotti, whose sacking in May opened the door for the 34-year-old Portuguese, said: "Villas-Boas cannot work miracles. This is an old team now.
"It is exactly the same team as the one I left, with the exception of Juan Mata and Raul Meireles.
"The problem is not Villas-Boas, it is with the team that he has.
"Andre is young and inexperienced, but he has done well and he is talented.
"I feel Roman (Abramovich) needs to give him time to sort it out and make his ideas work."
Ancelotti was axed as a consequence of his winter "bad moment" last season, when winning just 10 points from 11 games lead to the Blues ending the season empty-handed.
But he has told the club not to pull the trigger on Villas-Boas, even if Chelsea are knocked out of the Champions League by Valencia next Tuesday, insisting the squad, not the manager, is responsible for the recent run of results.
Italian Ancelotti has continued to live in London since leaving Chelsea, hoping for a return to the Premier League with another club in the capital.
His words may cause some disquiet among the players he left behind at Stamford Bridge.
The former AC Milan coach added: "The problem is in the organisation and with the players - all the things that they have to change to make it better.
"Maybe he does lack experience. But they knew that when they appointed him. He needs time."
While AVB has been given private support by the Chelsea hierarchy, that backing is in danger of disappearing if he cannot turn the club's season around.
And with suggestions that Villas-Boas' refusal to stick with a settled side is causing increasing concern, he appeared to be clutching at straws as he conceded his campaign is in danger of turning to dust, although he had no option but to deny the problem was with his squad.
Villas-Boas said: "I don't think this is the sign of an ageing team. It was our decision to stick with these players because we believe in them.
"We don't like being out of the Carling Cup, but now we have to look forward to the challenge we have ahead of us.
"And there are games in the Premier League where we must make the most of the December fixtures to get our challenge back on track.
"We've lost one competition, we're not looking good in the Premier League, but we believe we can go on a good run of games to take us to another position.
"Just because we've had this record recently doesn't mean it will continue to happen.
"We have to get the wins from the December fixtures to challenge for the Premier League if it's still available.
"Also, the FA Cup and Champions League remain for us, with a game against Valencia where we have to be at our best standard to beat them, because they are a team on a good run of form."