Exclusive: Frank Leboeuf exonerates Pochettino as Chelsea ‘poison’ is blamed on Boehly and co.

Kevin Palmer
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure at Chelsea.

Chelsea legend Frank Leboeuf has insisted manager Mauricio Pochettino is not to blame for the club’s shocking fall from grace, as he pointed an accusing finger at the club’s owners after Sunday’s desperate Carabao Cup Final defeat against Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk’s last-gasp extra-time header sealed victory for Liverpool in what was seen as a humiliating defeat for a Chelsea side who failed to take advantage of depleted opposition that finished the game with a host of Academy youngsters on the field.

Pochettino’s future as Chelsea boss was instantly cast into doubt after his side’s woeful extra-time display at Wembley, yet World Cup winner Leboeuf used a powerful word to explain why the problems at the club cannot be cured overnight.

Speaking to Football 365 on behalf of BetVictor, Leboeuf said: “There is a poison at Chelsea that was there before Pochettino arrived and you cannot expect him to get rid of it quickly.

“When Pochettino signed for Chelsea… what can he do? The poison is there, that’s what the problem is for me.

“I want to see what he (Pochettino) can do if he is given the players he needs in the attacking positions, but he doesn’t have that at the moment.

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“The owners decided to go for a business model that could make money by signing young players, but that takes time. Chelsea don’t have that time.

“A football club is made up of experienced players and talented young players. When you only have talented young players, it gets very tricky. They don’t know how to react in difficult circumstances.

“We all know that you need a mix of everything. As long as you think this way and just sign young players, you will struggle at some point. Pochettino cannot give them experience on the training ground, so what can he do?

“I’m sure he (Pochettino) knows he needs a more convincing player up front and a No.10, so he has to be given a chance to get those players in and then we can see what he can do.”

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Leboeuf believes the blame for Chelsea’s woes lies with the decisions made by American owner Todd Boehly and the team of advisers around him since he took control of Chelsea in May 2022.

“How can they spend £1billion on players and have these results? It makes no sense,” continued Leboeuf.

“You see them losing against a Liverpool side with so many young players and you wonder where that money went.

“That money went on players for the future and not the present, but this is not how it should work at Chelsea.

“If you are at RB Leipzig, you can sign young players and give them time to develop, but Chelsea is different.

“The fans are not happy because this is a successful club, maybe the most successful in England for the last two decades, and it needs to be winning.

“The owners decided to change how Chelsea achieved success by signing young players and saying we will do well in a few years. No, this is not possible. This is Chelsea.

“The owners have come into Chelsea and they want to make money, but the culture of European football is different to America. This is not all about business.

“This is not NBA or baseball. Sport is different in Europe. For the fans, they need it, it is like a drug. I’m not sure the owners at Chelsea understood this.”

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Leboeuf believes a change of transfer policy and the recruitment of more experienced performers could be a route to a quick-fix solution at Chelsea, as he admitted the lack of leadership was a big reason why they lost against Liverpool at Wembley.

“Maybe the players didn’t believe in themselves before the match and then when they got to a point where they have a chance to win against Liverpool, they couldn’t do it,” added the former defender who won three domestic cup competitions during his time at Chelsea.

“We have had the same issues for a while now. The problem with Chelsea is they can create, but they never finish. This is the major point they have to resolve.

“When they don’t have a striker and maybe a No.10 as well, they have a problem.

“Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher are doing a job in the middle of the park, but they don’t have a player like Gianfranco Zola who can create and also score goals.

“Signing experienced players may solve their problem, but that would go against their policy of the last couple of years which was all based on bringing the best young players to the club.

“They have these young players on seven and eight-year contracts, but it will take a long time before we see if they can develop to be top players.”