Pochettino blamed for injuries by Chelsea chiefs as players speak out over ‘primitive’ but brutal training

Will Ford
Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino's training methods were 'primitive' according to his players.

Mauricio Pochettino was blamed by the Chelsea hierarchy for the high number of injury problems, while his ‘primitive’ training methods, the lack of structure in the team and his in-game management also contributed to the ‘soft’ manager’s departure.

Pochettino left Chelsea by mutual consent on Wednesday, with a report suggesting his ‘antiquated’ training and inability to make more of the a very expensively assembled squad were among the reasons for his departure.

The Athletic have gone into more detail, claiming that Pochettino was also deemed culpable for the club’s extensive injury problems, which became one of the manager’s biggest excuses for their issues, along with the inexperience of the squad.

Injuries a ‘collective concern’?

Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Christopher Nkunku missed a big chunk of the campaign, summer signing Romeo Lavia played just over 30 minutes in total and Wesley Fofana was absent for the whole season.

The report claims the club chiefs ‘considered the issue a collective concern’ with improvements overseen by Bryce Kavanagh, the head of performance, who watched over training sessions.

Pochettino pushed back against suggestions his training methods contributed to the problem – “We (the staff) arrived from a different club, not from Mars, to manage footballers,” he said earlier this month – but some claimed the ‘Chelsea players were overworked and tasked with excessive amounts of high-intensity running’.

The report adds:

‘The demanding nature of the sessions was a talking point among the players; how there were so many drills, whether they be one-vs-one, two-vs-two and so on, with the onus forever on pressing and winning the ball back. As one source close to a senior player told The Athletic: “There was no let-up. Everything had to be at 100 per cent.”

‘It is also claimed that a tendency to bring recovering players back into full rather than adapted training too quickly resulted in re-injuries.’

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‘Tactically primitive’ training

The training was brutal but ‘regarded as tactically primitive by some players’, who were reportedly given ‘relatively few detailed instructions issued and improvisation encouraged’.

It’s claimed the ‘scattergun selection of academy players caused a stir’ while on one particular occasion ‘a member of the first-team squad was picked in a role he had never played or trained in before and was notified only when Pochettino announced his starting XI to the squad a few hours beffore a match’.

‘The lack of a clear structure’ led to the view among the club bosses that the team ‘lacked a discernible identity or pattern of play’ and the drop off in the second halves of games ‘painted a deeply unflattering picture of the Argentine’s in-game management’.

There was also a concern that Pochettino was ‘generally being too soft on his squad’ after the incident which saw Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson attempt to take the penalty away from Cole Palmer against Everton, with the manager ‘ultimately responsible for not setting out a clear penalty-taking hierarchy’.

The Athletic also revealed that Pochettino’s doubts over Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez, and his public crticism of the sporting directors were other factors in his departure, and you can read all about that here: Pochettino had doubts over £220m duo as Chelsea chiefs took criticism of sporting directors ‘extremely poorly’