Thiago Silva provides just cause for Pochettino to rip off Chelsea sticking plaster

Will Ford
Thiago Silva Chelsea
Thiago Silva's mistake proved costly against Aston Villa.

Thiago Silva made a costly mistake for Chelsea, who are making sacrifices to shoehorn him into the team. Mauricio Pochettino has got a big call to make.

We need to talk about Thiago Silva. To say he cut a frustrated figure on Sunday would be an understatement. His ‘high standards’ can ‘cross the line into sulking’ both in training and on the pitch, The Telegraph wrote this week, not that we needed their sources’ revelation, given the way the Brazilian literally stamped his feet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

After one of many dull periods of pointless possession for Chelsea, having received and passed the ball back to Levi Colwill twice already, Silva shouted and waved his arms, gesticulating to Mykhaylo Mudryk, who was stood on the left wing apparently failing to make the run in behind the centre-back was after. Cottoning on, Colwill then mimicked the veteran having received the ball for a third time, eventually playing the ball over the top, long after the moment to do so had passed.

It was a moment typical of a wavelength problem at Chelsea, where Nicolas Jackson and the wingers make runs that are unseen and then fail to do so at the points when the defenders and midfielders are looking for them. Silva also vented frustration at the sitting midfielders for not showing for the ball and at the decision-making of the hapless forwards.

All of Silva’s demands are reasonable. And in a team so bereft of experience, his should be one of the loudest voices. What’s not clear is whether Silva is waiting for his teammates to do the things his manager wants, or whether he expects something different of them compared to Pochettino.

Explaining why Conor Gallagher is currently wearing the captain’s armband in Reece James’ absence ahead of Thiago Silva, Pochettino said this week: “Thiago is an experienced player that doesn’t need the armband.” But that’s not really an explanation, and suggests the manager is using the captaincy like some of confidence booster rather than a trophy of leadership, which we dont buy. Assuming Thiago is Pochettino’s on-field enforcer, it’s weird that he’s not captain. So perhaps we can’t make that assumption? Is he in fact a dissenting voice Pochettino puts up with for his quality?

“And then I think it’s important to build something for the future,” Pochettino added, which although used as another bizarre explanation for Gallagher being captain over Silva, is a far more valid reason for Silva not playing at all.

His mistake cost Chelsea a point. But the miscontrol in the opposition half isn’t the concern – that’s a one in a million event for one of the most skillful centre-backs in football history. It’s the inability to recover that’s tge problem, and not just when it came to Ollie Watkins’ winner, but also because of the effect it’s having on the way in which Chelsea are playing and which players are being used.

Chelsea vs Villa
Ollie Watkins fires Aston Villa in front vs Chelsea.

A lot is being made of the chances Chelsea are missing, but it’s not as though they’re creating significantly more than the teams they’re playing. In fact Chelsea owe a lot to Robert Sanchez for still being in the game by the time Watkins scored in the second half.

Silva’s inclusion in the team means Chelsea can’t play as high as they might, and the press isn’t as effective as it could be. Colwill’s playing at left-back as defensive cover for the Brazilian, very clunkily, while Ben Chilwell – one of the best attacking left-backs in the league – watches from the bench.

Even the inclusion of Gallagher alongside Moises Caicedo is perhaps with legs in front of the 39-year-old in mind, as Enzo Fernandez plays too far forward to influence the game as much as Chelsea need him to. If Fernandez becomes the box-to-box midfielder, Cole Palmer, or Christopher Nkunku when he returns from injury, can operate in the No.10 position.

Pochettino should be doing everything possible to make Chelsea more of a threat, and although the dearth of experience is also a huge problem, Silva’s voice – backed by well over 500 senior appearances at the top of the game – is having little effect while his ageing body has too much of one.

Chelsea may suffer even more in the short-term without him, but if Pochettino and the owners truly are thinking purely of the future, it’s time to rip the Brazilian band-aid off, and perhaps the veteran defender’s mistake on Sunday, gives the manager just cause to do so.