Jamie Carragher believes Chelsea would be making a mistake if they were to let Antonio Conte go at the end of the season.
In the summer, Conte lamented the club's failure to secure the transfer targets he had identified and has already admitted it will be "impossible" for Chelsea to retain the title they won last season as they trail Manchester City by 14 points after just 18 games.
Roman Abramovich has never been particularly reluctant to replace managers after a couple of seasons and Carragher said the Italian's decision to air his disappointment over the lack of signings could count against him at the end of the campaign.
However, the former Liverpool defender believes the west Londoners could jeopardise their chances of regaining the league, should they sack Conte.
"I said at the start of the season before a ball was kicked that I'd be surprised if he was at Chelsea next season because he wasn't shy in letting it be known that he wasn't happy with the recruitment in the summer," Carragher said on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.
"They've had great success changing managers, but for me I think it would be a mistake if Conte wasn't in the hot seat next season.
"I think he's brilliant. I think this season, you can't compare what he's done to Manchester City, it's a bit of a freak."
Carragher also praised Conte's ruthlessness in handling what, at times, has been described as a difficult dressing room. The likes of Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic have seen confrontations with the Italian lead to their eventual departures and they could soon be joined by David Luiz.
The Brazilian is currently sidelined with a knee injury and is expected to return to action at the start of next month, but uncertainty over his future continues to linger after he fell out with Conte.
The former Paris Saint Germain defender exchanged words with the Italian following Chelsea's 3-0 loss to Roma in the Champions League group stage at the end of October and was subsequently axed for the club's 1-0 win over Manchester United a few days later.
While some reports have suggested the relationship between the pair has improved, Luiz has emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal and could still leave Stamford Bridge before the end of the season.
"The way he's dealt with the (Diego) Costa situation, David Luiz this season, he [Conte] takes no mess," Carragher added. "He's a proper top manager, I'd love to still see him there, but I'd be surprised if he is next season."