In a press conference following the 4-1 loss at Newcastle, Mauricio Pochettino made a number of striking statements about his Chelsea players, lasting just over seven minutes. This was Pochettino drawing a line in the sand with his squad: no more Mr Nice Guy.
Pochettino had previously shown patience in the first three months of the campaign but that appears to be running out after the lackluster display against Newcastle. He mentioned during an interview with Sky Sports that a normal way to react to such a poor display would be to cancel the scheduled Sunday off in order to do extra training.
Before he walked in to address the media, Pochettino was already demonstrating his angst, indicating that he was primed to go further in his criticism. The Athletic has taken a closer look at the key points he made.
“We were not prepared in the best way to compete.”
The word “compete” was mentioned 11 times during the conference, emphasizing just how much this facet of the game upset him. He was right to flag it as an issue. The second half was a complete collapse, an embarrassing surrender.
“Sometimes it is like, ‘OK, we play Manchester City and everyone is going to be focused on us, we are going to fight until the end’. But now we need to translate.’ “The big teams perform every week or every three days in this way. ‘That is a thing we need to set in the team.’”
The lack of consistency in performances has been a common theme. The tendency to raise themselves for the “big games” only to fail to back it up the week after has been seen before.
There is definitely something amiss with their mentality and Pochettino knows it. If this problem is not solved fast, their hopes of qualifying for a European club competition via a high league finish will be over.
“The amount we concede is because we need to be more focused and concentrated…
Chelsea have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six Premier League games and have conceded 14 times in that run. It is a worrying trend, especially the lack of focus and concentration.
You cannot point the finger at one individual for this. The players seem to take turns to have lapses in concentration.
For some of them, Pochettino is the fourth head coach they have worked under. That is a lot of different instructions and tactical tweaks to digest.
All this does not absolve Pochettino of responsibility. Chelsea often look vulnerable from set pieces and that has to come down to coaching.
“It was really tough to be there and to try to connect with the coaching staff. It was really tough because you cannot show your emotion.”
Pochettino was banned from the touchline at Newcastle. If he cannot keep his cool in matches, then it puts him in a weak position when his players do the same.
Reece James was sent off for two foolish yellow cards at Newcastle, ending any chance of a comeback. Pochettino notably did not criticize his captain too much for it.
“It was our worst game of the season.”
No arguments here.
(Top photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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