Once tipped to get the Manchester City job after Pep’s eventual departure, no one would have thought about the fact that Spurs’ arguably best modern day manager would join one of their bitter rivals Chelsea but here we are. There are sentiments of disgruntlement in both sections of fans but in recent years two of Chelsea’s Premier League winning managers in Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have taken over the club at N17. He will be joined by his son Sebastian, goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez and assistant coach Miguel D’Agostino.
The job that Mauricio is walking into is tough one. Various poor decisions made by the Roman Abramovich lead Chelsea and the new regime have all now culminated into the mess of a season Chelsea fans are experiencing right now. Unless Frank Lampard manages to pull off a miracle and beat Manchester City & Manchester United both games which are in Manchester and a Champions League spot occupying Newcastle United, the club is set to record the lowest points total since the 90/91 season when the Blues managed 49 points. The fans will write off this horrific year and will be looking forward to welcoming Poch at Stamford Bridge at the start of next season.
THE PERFECT PROJECT FOR POCHETTINO?
The word ‘project’ is something Chelsea Football Club don’t associate with until very recently when the club has had a change in regime. Todd Boehly & co. have always maintained and echoed sentiments that the club will have a long-term view as compared to the past twenty years of the previous regime under Roman where it was more to do with winning now rather than creating a team that will compete year on year. Also, the brand of football was not a priority under the Russian businessmen’s regime with the success achieved by the team was based on a defensive style of football (with the exception of Carlo Ancelotti’s double-winning team) but the American owners have stated that they want their side to play front foot attacking football with modern methods of tactical innovations.
So the owners went out and splashed a ridiculous sum of nearly $600 million in two transfer windows. For context, all the Bundesliga clubs combined have spent that sort of money and the results have not gone according to the plan. Instead of fighting for silverware, the Blues find themselves out of each cup competition and desperately staving off a descent into the mire of lower mid-table.
On a similar timeline, Poch after his successful spell with Tottenham Hotspur went off to manage the all-star team of Paris St. Germain which had contained the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and fellow countrymen Lionel Messi. During his first season when he arrived in January, Poch took the team to another CL semi-final losing to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and won the Coupe de France & Trophée des Champions but lost out the league to Christophe Galtier’s Lille. Another unsuccessful season followed where he finished the league comfortably at the top position but once again underperformed in UEFA Champions League which is a recipe for sacking in Paris.
Pochettino’s stock has been quite low since and the opportunity presented by Chelsea who are completely overhauling things right from the philosophy of the club to style of play to even members of backroom staff, this seems like a perfect project where Mauricio can mark his stamp, help this bloated squad to reach its full potential and implement the same style of football that the Argentine implemented at Tottenham Hotspur.
LONG TERM VIEW OF THE OWNERS
This has been a major point for the new ownership of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital and they want to work on achieving success with a long-term view. Boehly has successfully implemented this idea with his MLB side LA Dodgers where he appointed Dave Roberts in 2016. After successive seasons of building the team up, they finally won the World Series in 2020.
The appointment of Graham Potter was supposed to be of that similar strategy but Potter’s inability to cope with the vastness of a job like Chelsea saw ultimately him being shown the door in early April.
But Mauricio’s appointment will be different due to the fact that he understands the scope of the job at hand and has first hand witnessed it when he was appointed as the head coach of Tottenham after a very successful spell in charge at Southampton. Initially, after an underwhelming season when he took the side from sixth to fifth, he was given time by Daniel Levy to build more on the potential he saw in the squad and the head coach. Then the following campaign the fruits of patience and labor came to fruition when they were engaged in a title charge losing out to Leicester City. In five seasons he maxed the potential of that squad on a shoestring budget.
The resources he will command at Chelsea should help him start a title charge in his second or third season with good performances in domestic cups and a philosophy of football desperately needed at this moment in time.
HIS QUALITIES AS A MANAGER
Mauricio Pochettino’s teams have always been a high-pressing side coupled with an emphasis on possession-based football. The Argentine has consistently shown the ability to develop well-structured and dynamic teams. His teams typically line up in a 4–2–3–1 formation but time and time again he has shown that he is willing to mix and match the system to suit the crop of players available to his disposal. This young Chelsea side could definitely use some structured and consistent coaching ideas which have been difficult to come by due to the high turnover of managers in this season.
The levels of fitness required to play for a Pochettino side are very high and the famous ‘Gacon Test‘ needs to be passed if not they may not feature in the matchday squads. It is an unusual and brutal motivational tool designed to push his charges to the limit of their mental fortitude. His former player Rickie Lambert told talkSPORT in an interview talked more on this way of preparation saying,
“It is going to be tough, and the players will not have seen anything like Poch before. They will get pushed in training more than the games they will be playing. It is all a mental thing.” He also made players walk through hot coals, something Lambert claimed “to be the Superman syndrome. He likes to push you in training to such an extent that when it comes to match days it is a rest!”
His abilities to man-manage a team have been amazing with the culture around the club in turn remains a positive one. As tough as coach Poch is, he is much more of a loveable character behind the scenes. He makes it a job to know all the names of all club staff, from the washroom to the boardroom, and even the dates of players’ children’s birthdays. These are the small and yet important details that sets him apart from an average manager.
TRACK RECORD OF DEVELOPING AND PROMOTING YOUNG PLAYERS
Also, his track record of developing and promoting players from the academy and those bought from other clubs at Tottenham Hotspur for small transfer fees was exceptional. Players like Kane, Alli, Son & Dier sought crucial minutes for their development. Harry Kane, now the second-highest scorer of the Premier League era, grew under tutelage while he gave a relatively unknown ex-Bayer Leverkusen winger Son the necessary time and now he is considered to be the greatest player the Asian continent ever produced. Alli has never looked the same ever since Poch left the club and Dier became a full-fledged England international.
If he could replicate similar results with the Chelsea academy which is considered to be the best talent factory in the world then players like Noni Madueke, Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka will hugely benefit while Lewis Hall, Gabriel Slonina, Omari Hutchinson and David Datro Fofana could earn regular first time minutes.
Mauricio Pochettino’s potential appointment as Chelsea manager holds great promise. His tactical acumen, player development abilities, consistency, Champions League experience, and man-management skills make him the ideal candidate to lead the club forward. By implementing his proven strategies and instilling a sense of stability, Pochettino could elevate Chelsea to new heights, reinvigorating the team and positioning them as genuine contenders for domestic and European honors.