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Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino: An Insight Into The Chaos

When Chelsea’s board set out to rebuild their team and hire a new manager, their goal was to create a formidable squad capable of challenging for titles, much like Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.

Initially, due to the new owners’ obsession with Brighton Hove Albion, they hired Graham Potter for the job but ultimately failed to surround him with the needed structure for him to succeed. Everyone knows how it ended. The English manager lasted 7 months after initially signing a 5-year contract, as the owners discovered that Potter did not fit their criteria, which begs the question: If Graham Potter does not fit their criteria, why did they sign him to a 5-year contract?

After that mess, the Chelsea Board sought a manager who played attractive, possession-based football, had a track record of developing young players, and possessed Premier League experience. A meticulous selection process that lasted two months ended with the hiring of Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea’s Choice of Mauricio Pochettino

The Argentinian is renowned for his successful tenure at Tottenham Hotspur and a less remarkable stint at Paris Saint-Germain. After having a break from football that supposedly refreshed him, the Argentine seemed like the ideal candidate to take the reigns at the struggling London side.

Premier League experience? Check.

High-pressing, energetic football? Check.

Ability to develop young players? Check.

There was plenty of hope for this hiring, and many believed that Chelsea had finally found the right man for their project.

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Pochettino has thus far been a mere shadow of his former self, resembling a manager with no direction. The Argentinian manager is known for his uncompromising standards, having previously exiled players like Younes Kaboul and Roberto Soldado from Tottenham due to their failure to meet the level he requires from his players.

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The man who cultivated a young Tottenham squad using players like Harry Kane, Moussa Dembele, and Dele Alli has failed to improve one single player of Chelsea’s expensive talents.

Lack of Player Development

Although it is a short period to make an informed decision, it is difficult to argue that any player has shown individual improvement under Pochettino’s tutelage. In defence, Benoit Badiashile’s performances regressed; Levi Colwill is often deployed out of position; and Ian Maatsen is on loan at Borussia Dortmund.

In midfield, Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandes, signed for a combined fee of 225 million pounds, have been consistently misused and subjected to unattainable expectations due to their price tags, leading them to deactivate their Twitter accounts due to fan abuse. In Attack, Mykhailo Mudryk warms the bench until the 70th minute, and Noni Madueke rarely gets a sustained run of games.

Underwhelming Season for Senior Players:

Consequently, experienced players such as Raheem Sterling, Thiago Silva, and Ben Chilwell have had underwhelming seasons thus far. Thiago Silva’s wife has been on social media, attacking the manager and urging the board to make a change before it is too late.

Ben Chilwell, one of the club’s captains and expected leaders of the new era, has also been underwhelming. The English left-back committed an error leading to a goal against Liverpool, received a yellow card, and completed fewer than 20 passes in the first half, despite his role as an attacking full-back for that match.

A Clear Lack of Direction:

The team looks like a mess; experienced players are not leading by example; young players are not developing; and academy players are being sold to balance accounts. Perhaps Pochettino desired a more experienced squad, but if that were the case, the Argentinian should have declined the job offer.

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Furthermore, the lack of tactical flexibility is evident as the team is being asked to play a style of football that they are ill-equipped to execute. Despite an initial defensive solidity at the start of the season, the team appears uninspired in attack and vulnerable in defence, with a far-from-ideal pressing structure that leaves Enzo and Caicedo with vast areas of the pitch to cover.

The Way Forward for a Brighter Future:

Perhaps Pochettino will prove everybody wrong in the end and build a juggernaut like he did at Tottenham. Yet, if the Argentinian manager wants the fans to trust the process, evidence of progress needs to be clear. As a way to start, courageous decisions need to be taken by clearing the deadwood, being bold, adapting to the needs and strengths of the squad, and building around the vibrant young talent that has been signed.

One thing is certain: Pochettino would either prove himself as the right person for the job, or else there would be no light at the end of the tunnel, but rather a wall to crash into.

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