Chelsea must follow Spurs and adhere to simple Pochettino demand amid senseless sack talk

Matt Stead
Frank Lampard, Mauricio Pochettino and Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna with the Chelsea badge
Someone please save Chelsea from themselves

Chelsea considering their situation this summer is sensible, but if they come to any conclusion which sees Pochettino leave they are unsalvageably stupid.

 

“I wish the new manager well. I don’t know…it’s his problem, I guess. Is that the headline you wanted?”

It was certainly the one we got, with Frank Lampard bestowing upon Mauricio Pochettino the burden of managing Chelsea and making sense of the operational muddied waters at Clearlake after an embarrassing caretaker reign for all involved.

The “problem” was exchanged rather than shared, and multiplied instead of halved. Chelsea finished 12th, spent almost £400m on a dozen new players, recouped more than half of that by selling another 14 and acknowledged the complications of handling such a massive squad by making it both bigger and younger.

There is no sense in pretending Pochettino has navigated that route seamlessly. Chelsea have looked every bit as amateurishly coached and relentlessly directionless at times this season. Arsenal, Sheffield United, Burnley and Wolves were low points which undermined all semblance of progress. Their defensive record has been historically bad and the gap to the elite remains a daunting chasm.

The winning run to end the campaign was heartening but what came before it cannot be ignored.

An end-of-season review is entirely justified; as fashionable and fun as it is to knock Todd Boehly and friends, that is a perfectly sensible course of action. But any suggestion it will end in a conclusion other than Pochettino being allowed to build on the foundations he has laid this campaign feels preposterous.

Pochettino’s apparent expectation is simple: to be given more say on transfers. Not the final or even loudest one – if that had been the case from the beginning then his future would not be a point of discussion as Cole Palmer could never have saved him – but just some input to offer balance to the executives simply looking through their phone contacts for the number of an old Brighton colleague.

It is something Pochettino secured in his second season at Spurs, having improved their league position, reached a cup final, handled heavy squad turnover and harnessed some brilliant young talents in his first. The parallels are there with Chelsea, down to the final points totals (64 for Spurs in 2014/15 and 63 for Chelsea in 2023/24), and those are promising footsteps to try and retrace.

And if Pochettino can work under the transfer constraints of Daniel Levy for more than five years, Chelsea must realise their fortune in landing a coach better than their current level and should try and accommodate such outlandish demands as not just selling all their good players to fund incredibly expensive moves for teenaged Brazilian forwards.

Their reported desire for a young coach who will nod, smile and embrace what he is given is detached from reality. If they think Kieran McKenna fits that bill then the Ipswich manager’s comments during the January transfer window – on there needing to be “full agreement from all stakeholders within the club” – will be illuminating.

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Even Boehly himself, when discussing the decision to dispense with Thomas Tuchel nearly two years ago, stressed the requirement to identify “a coach who really wanted to collaborate”.

They already have one who has established a rapport with the players, shown a willingness and ability to adapt and evolve to the strengths and weaknesses of his squad and delivered tangible progress, albeit with caveats and clear room for improvement.

Changing course again now Chelsea are finally on something resembling the right track would be ludicrous, particularly considering the unadulterated mess Pochettino inherited. This should remain his “problem” for as long as he seems capable of providing the solution.

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