Michael Ballack believes Chelsea's senior players need to rise to the challenge of helping the club to emerge from their current slump.
Andre Villas-Boas' reign at Stamford Bridge has endured a difficult start and reports have claimed the Portuguese is already under pressure.
Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League games to sit 12 points behind leaders Manchester City and are also in danger of missing out on the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
A 2-1 defeat by Ballack's Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening left the Blues needing to beat Valencia, or secure a 0-0 draw, next month to avoid elimination.
Ballack, who made over 160 appearances for Chelsea during four years at the club, feels it is now time for the senior figures to stand up and be counted.
Captain John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba all helped to pick up the pieces when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked almost three years ago and Ballack feels the Blues again need to turn to that trio to take the lead.
"They have to do it," said Ballack. "You can't talk about or just criticise the young players.
"It always has to come from the older more experienced players."
He added: "There are still enough big and experienced players at the club who speak in the dressing room. I'm sure of that.
"It's not just one player."