Dennis Wise believes Chelsea are missing John Terry’s influence and that Gary Cahill has been unable to fill the void.
Cahill has taken over as Blues captain since Terry’s departure in the summer.
But Chelsea legend Wise says the England defender’s own poor form means he has not been able to guide other under-performing players through the team’s bad patch.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Wise said: “He (Terry) was the leader of that group and I don’t think at the moment they have someone like that that has replaced him and is in there who can sort these problems out.
“You always have to have certain personnel within that group who can dig people out. That has to come within the players – not always the manager.
“I don’t think they’ve got enough of that within the side. John was the last one who really would nail people and tell them as it is.
“I’d look at Cahill and I’d like to think he would be a leader. But at the moment, with his performances, he’s been struggling as well.
“Sometimes, when your performances (are poor), you start to concentrate on yourself.
“I don’t think they’ve actually got someone who can start digging people out and start putting it together.”
‘Off on one’
Conte’s side, with David Luiz restored to the heart of their defence, were awful at the back – and Wise believes that highlighted a lack of leadership.
“There are certain things that happen on the pitch and you need players to sort them out,” Wise said.
“You look at what happened against Watford. They were all over the place and David Luiz decided to start going everywhere.
“It was down to Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill to say: ‘Oi, pack it in. Come alongside us.’ Those are the two you’d look at.
“I get the feeling they’re very nice and quiet people. You sometimes need personnel in the middle who are not always liked, unfortunately, and have to say what needs to be said.
“I did it. John did it for many years. You do have arguments inside that dressing room and you do say what needs to be said.
“He (Luiz) went off on one for some reason and he caused the whole back three problems at times.
“That’s where you need someone to really have a go and pull them inside.”