Pochettino had doubts over £220m duo as Chelsea chiefs took criticism of sporting directors ‘extremely poorly’

Will Ford
Pochettino Enzo Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino had doubts over Enzo Fernandez at Chelsea.

Mauricio Pochettino was reportedly shown the door at Chelsea for – among other things – his doubts over a pair of big-money signings and his public criticism of the club’s sporting directors.

Pochettino led Chelsea into Europe after an uptick in displays in the second half of his debut season at Stamford Bridge, but left the club by mutual consent on Tuesday.

A report on Wednesday claimed Pochettino was let go over his ‘antiquated’ coaching methods and for failing to make better use of his squad despite the significant transfer spend.

‘Lacked size and power for the Premier League’

The Athletic has now more meat on the bones of the Argentinian’s departure, including his doubts over midfield pair Enzo Fernandes and Moises Caicedo, signed for a combined fee of £220m.

The report states that Pochettino ‘privately questioned whether Fernandez was destructive enough to be a No 6 or creative enough to be a No ‘ and thought Caicedo ‘lacked the positional discipline to operate as a specialist holding midfielder’.

There was an undoubted improvement in performances and results after Fernandez was ruled out for the season and Conor Gallagher – a clear favourite of Pochettino – moved to play alongside Caicedo in a deeper role and Pochettino felt the initial pair ‘lacked the size and power for the Premier League’.

It brings into question whether Pochettino had any say on the signings made under his stewardship, but it’s claimed he supported the signing of Caicedo and ‘senior figures insist there was collaboration on recrruitment and no major disagreements on strategy’.

The manager did though bring up the need for more experience players and is said to have asked the board to sign two such individuals he had worked with in the past but was denied.

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‘Thinly veiled criticism’

That all suggests there wasn’t total agreement between Pochettino and co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, and the report claims the manager’s ‘thinly veiled criticism’ of the pair in a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Aston Villa in April ‘was received extremely poorly’.

Pochettino insisted “the whole organisation” is culpable for the problems of the season, before adding: “My responsibility is that the team perform. But the club is designing and planning a structure that you need to prove works.

“Because of the results, you can say, yes it’s just him (the coach). But I don’t have the key of the club. I don’t take all the decisions here. That is to be made clear. If you say to me I have the key and this guy is here because it’s my decision, that is one thing. But if this is not my decision you need to judge me and judge him in his job, no? Because it’s not my direct responsibility.”

It’s claimed Pochettino ‘picked a battle he had no chance of winning’ with Stewart and Winstanley the golden boys in the eyes of Clearlake and Todd Boehly.

Pochettino claimed in that same press conference that he had not spoken to the owners for two months, which was met with raised eyebrows as there had been contact with Behdad Egbhali on a number of occasions in the interim.

All of this ‘reinforced the impression of Pochettino as being unwilling to work within Chelsea’s structure’.