Home Sport FA Cup replay: Defeat to Villa would pile more pressure on Pochettino

FA Cup replay: Defeat to Villa would pile more pressure on Pochettino

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Chelsea visit high-flying Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay today when another defeat would pile more pressure on Pochettino.

Chelsea’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the English Premier League football match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on February 4, 2024. Picture: Ben Stansall, AFP

Successive Premier League defeats in which eight goals have hit the back of the Chelsea net have raised the volume in the debate about Mauricio Pochettino’s job prospects at Stamford Bridge.

His team were booed after a 4-2 home loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday and fans even chanted the name of Chelsea’s former serial-winning manager Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea visit high-flying Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay today when another defeat would pile more pressure on Pochettino.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, the Argentine was quizzed on his post-Wolves remarks when said his expensively-assembled players had not been good enough and was also required to respond to social media comments made by the wife of Thiago Silva calling for change at the club.

It made for an uncomfortable lunchtime for a manager who is still grappling with a new Chelsea project that has seen more than £1 billion spent on signings since Todd Boehly took over at Stamford Bridge in May 2022.

Chelsea sit 11th in the Premier League and although they have a League Cup final against Liverpool to look forward to this month, Pochettino appears no closer to solving the puzzle he inherited when he accepted the job.

Pochettino, however, insists he has the support of the owners and has no issues with any of his players.

“I haven’t (heard) anything in another way. I received very good texts from them,” the former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain coach said.

“I think we are all together in this and that’s important. Of course, I am in contact with them and the sporting director every day.”

Part of the problem for Pochettino is failing to establish a recognisable style for a group of players who arrived with massive price tags but little Premier League nous – the likes of Moises Caicedo, Noni Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk and Nicolas Jackson have all struggled for consistency.

Another issue is that senior players like Raheem Sterling and Thiago are under-performing.

While the atmosphere has not turned toxic for Pochettino, an apathy has descended on Stamford Bridge this season with fans still to be convinced about the club’s decision to invest in raw talents rather than in ready trophy winners.

“We need to make a good connection with them,” Pochettino said.

“The fans need to understand, when you go to Stamford Bridge it is a different Chelsea and project and everything. The fans need from us to see that we really care and the players care, and I promise you and fans that the players want to perform and win games.

“The fans need to trust in us. We need to provide the calm for the players to feel free to play.

Asked whether he had spoken to Silva regarding his wife’s apparent criticism, Pochettino added: “The important thing is he came and wanted to talk with me. We talk, that was private and that was it.”

Reuters

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