Mauricio Pochettino Sacked, Top Four Chance – Chelsea End Of Season Outcome Predicted

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After taking over a team that finished 12th last season, losing in the first round of both domestic club competitions and scoring just 38 goals in the league, Mauricio Pochettino had the freedom of Cobham and Stamford Bridge to throw the baby out with the bath water. Just over six months on from the announcement that he would be taking over as the third permanent boss under the new ownership group and it hasn’t been a smooth start.

In the Premier League Chelsea have won just four of their opening 13 games despite playing six of the bottom half. Although goalscoring is on the up, that has been boosted by eight goals in two games before the international break and on the flipside it is now nine conceded in the past three with the Blues only keeping out Luton, Bournemouth, and Fulham.

With the most recent game, a horrific 4-1 defeat at Newcastle full of self-inflicted mistakes and general team-wide underperformance, there has been a return to the backlash that was being piled on during inconsistent runs in mid-October and before. Despite the positive results against Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal it was a ‘soft’ Chelsea that was rolled over by the Magpies, Pochettino himself said, and it is the boss being criticised.

With a track record of improving players and building at clubs, there was an expectation that things would change from last year but trends have stayed the same despite wholesale player and staff movement. In this light he has come under pressure once more with certain sections of the insatiable fanbase growing restless.

Ultimately he has only had 16 games in charge but many will point to Thomas Tuchel last year and say he had even less of an opportunity under the new owners before being axed. To make matters worse there is financial pressure on getting back into Europe, a task that already looks a long way off.

Here, football.london takes a look at what pundits are expecting from Chelsea this season.

Pochettino standing
Journalist Fabrizio Romano has cleared up the landscape around Pochettino’s future. “Chelsea want to see improvement – they are not happy with the same disappointing results, the same mistakes and these kind of things,” he told CaughtOffside.

“They want to see a better level, like they saw against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City, but with a young team you have to be patient.” In all it doesn’t change too much for the manager but does indicate that even with credit in the bank he could soon come under more tangible pressure from the owners if things continue to slide. Now onto the pundits.

Top four
At the start of the season Michael Owen was backing Pochettino to lead Chelsea back into the Champions League spots. “I think they will [finish in the top four next season],” he said before a ball had been kicked. “The most important thing at that club is to get rid of players. You can never, ever have a squad of that much quality and have harmony.”

He added: “You’re constantly draining all your energy trying to keep 30 players happy. I think the main thing now is to get rid of half a dozen players, focus on a smaller pool, and I think they will do alright next season.

“It’s easier said than done, there’s some that will naturally go – whether that be due to age, not being good enough or coming up to the end of their contract.”

Gary Neville was also calling for time for Pochettino with improvement to come. “They’ll have to give him time. Pochettino has to have time,” he said. Only last month he also claimed that the club would be in the mix for the top four/five by the end of the season as well.

“Chelsea I think probably nearer to it (top 4/5) if they could just go on a run because they have got some really talented young players, their age is a lot better than Manchester United’s squad.” Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher is also behind Pochettino and backing him to come good.

“The best thing about Chelsea right now is Mauricio Pochettino, not the players or the owners,” the former Liverpool star said after the club beat Tottenham. “When you talk about them getting back to winning trophies, I’m not sure they could have got a better manager that was available.” he added: “I think there’s a lot to feel good about at Chelsea: Pochettino right now, his young team, there’s a lot of optimism there because they have a manager who can go up against the best.”

He continued: “We’re almost a third of the way through the season, and you’re expecting Chelsea to get better under Pochettino. I don’t think they get top four, but should they, will they still have a fight for it? Of course! You’re not fighting against the best teams in the league if you don’t have a say in that conversation and they’ll be dropping points as well.

“We’ve seen this weekend that Newcastle have lost, Tottenham lost, and that’ll happen over weekends. People will be dropping points around them but Pochettino as a manager, he’s the thing that’d make me believe they have a chance to compete at the top.”

Carragher finished: “What Pochettino has done in big games is fantastic. He’s a manager who will go up against [Jurgen] Klopp, Guardiola, [Mikel] Arteta and he doesn’t quite have the tools that they have – people will argue about the amount of money they’ve spent and whatever but be honest, look at what they have on paper. It’s still short on what a few of the top teams have but what they’ve managed to do has been fantastic.”

Manager for the second half of last season, Frank Lampard, agrees. “I think he will get it [time], and he deserves it,” he told Sky Sports.

“He’s a man that comes with a big pedigree as a coach, and when I saw the issues that I referenced and he will have his own version of that, we all want to perform the best that we can. The hard bit is now he would have wanted points on the board in this period of games to give that feel in what will be a tougher period of games.”

Pressure and sackings
Roy Keane is much less sure of how things will turn around though. “What did we say about Chelsea’s project, if he keeps losing football matches he will be under pressure,” the Sky pundit said last month.

Earlier in the year when a rocky start and injuries had left the Blues stranded with little hope ESPN’s Mark Ogden also didn’t see a way out. “He’s got a group of players that he needs time to work out his best team and his best squad and I think he’s still working on that process but the situation is, when you manage a club like Chelsea with the history they’ve got, certainly recent history, you don’t get time.

“You don’t get time to make those decisions and you have to hit the ground running and he’s not really done that and had a fairly soft landing in terms of fixtures.” He added: “I’d be a little bit concerned if I was Pochettino because Chelsea has become a very difficult club to manage.

“It was difficult under [Roman] Abramovich but Abramovich you felt the managers had the tools they needed to succeed, if they failed then they had been given every chance to succeed. I think at Chelsea now the manager has got almost too many tools and maybe not the right tools.”

Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent also wasn’t confident that things would end well. He told talkSPORT: “Chelsea I almost feel are stuck in this kind of phase where, are they going to be a team that rebuilds or do they need instant success now?

“Now, [Graham] Potter was supposed to be the one that rebuilt Chelsea but yet it was getting that bad they went, ‘No, pull the plug’. I almost feel like with Pochettino, if this doesn’t get better, they can say all they want about, ‘Yeah we’ll give him time, he’s got to rebuild the squad’.

“If Chelsea, come Christmas time, are the bottom half of the table and I’m talking like halfway between the bottom and top 10, they might have to make a change.” After losing to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa in September Gabby Agbonlahor joined in the conversation, saying: “I was confident [Aston Villa would beat Chelsea] because you look at their players, you’re not scared.

“Where is these billion pounds? Where are these players? [Moises] Caicedo, top player. [Enzo] Fernandez, a top player, but I think Villa’s midfield of [Boubacar] Kamara and [Douglas] Luiz cost £15million, Chelsea’s was £200million and they [Villa] bossed the middle, absolutely bossed the midfield.

“They’ve got problems and everyone talks about time, time, time. They’re booing Chelsea after the game, fans don’t give you time. These fans are like ‘You’ve spent £1billion we should be up there with Manchester City, up there with Arsenal. We’re going to be fighting for top four.'”

He continued: “It’s erratic from the owners, the spending. The manager has got to do better. Before the last game, he looked quite happy after losing points like he thinks he’s got time and this length of a project. We saw it with Frank Lampard and Potter. If this carries on, and they’ve got some tough games that they’re not guaranteed to win now, teams aren’t scared to play Chelsea now.”

Agbonlahor finished: “Pochettino, I hope he doesn’t think he’s got the amount of time he thinks he has.”

This is a sentiment echoed by former player and assistant manager Boudewijn Zenden: “It’s not easy for Pochettino,” he told Dutch outlet Soccerness. “I have been at Chelsea as a player and [assistant] manager and know the environment in which he works.

“There have been several great coaches who have died there. I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon in his case. The club has gone through an unprecedented transition with new owners and a completely new squad. It is logical that it takes time.

“On the other hand, they have spent an awful lot of money in the last four transfer windows. If you take that thought with you to the match, you watch with pain in your eyes. You don’t see the dominant Chelsea you expect. This is of course also due to the many injuries. That is something that worries me with the difficult schedule they still have.

“If Chelsea don’t get enough points until Boxing Day, things will become very precarious for everyone at the club.” When asked if he would be manager come Christmas he said: “I really don’t dare say that.

“I think he is a good coach, but putting together a completely new team takes time. The fact that he cannot play with a fixed eleven means that it takes longer to forge certain automatisms.

“I honestly doubt he will get that time. But let’s not be too pessimistic and assume that things are moving in the right direction little by little, as the latest results show.”

Finally, Simon Jordan is unsure on whether Pochettino is the man to bring success but hasn’t ruled out the 51-year-old having a good run at things either way. “I don’t see him as having that winning gene,” he told talkSPORT. “I don’t think he will be the person who takes Chelsea to the place that they want to be.

“I think he will be a bit more than the part Eddie Howe will play at Newcastle. But I think he will play a part in making sure Todd Boehly starts to understand what really running a football club involves and what really employing managers who win Leagues involves.

“But Pochettino is one of the best of the rest and there is a very unique gang, a very small gang. We like to use the term world-class for players and spread it around like confetti. There are only a few of those around, but everyone who has a good few games is world-class.

“There are only a few elite managers, Carlo Ancelotti is one of them, Pep Guardiola clearly one of them and Jurgen Klopp. Pochettino is a very good manager who will get a decent Chelsea side in and around the top four.”

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