Monday, April 22, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino laments ‘unfair’ criticism and vows to ‘never’ quit Chelsea

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Mar 2024

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Mauricio Pochettino has insisted he will never quit Chelsea and hit out at “completely unfair” criticism of his young team.

The 52-year-old Argentinian has seen his side unfavourably compared to Blues teams of the past since taking over in July, with the London club having won five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues during the last two decades.

Pochettino’s team are 11th in the table ahead of Monday’s meeting at home to Newcastle, however, with a second consecutive season without European competition appearing almost certain.

Supporters have turned on the head coach and his players in recent weeks, including last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Brentford when the team surrendered a first-half lead and dodged defeat only with a late equaliser.

Monday’s game will be their first in the league in front of their own fans since being booed off at the end of a 4-2 defeat to Wolves early in February, and there was also criticism after they failed to beat a depleted Liverpool team in the Carabao Cup final two weeks ago.

Chelsea have the youngest squad in the league since co-owner Todd Boehly embarked on a mission to clear out the club’s more established players in favour of expensive but less experienced recruits, and Pochettino feels some of the analysis has been out of order.

“I feel young,” he said. “I don’t feel 52. It’s true that (the players) are young, but we like to help them. We like to talk, to train, to support. We are supporting them.

“The fans don’t know. The players are so young, playing at Wembley in a final. Maybe they didn’t sleep the night before. Sometimes, to analyse with different parameters and the way that you assess is completely unfair.

“Today it is a different Chelsea. If you are going to judge us, comparing the past of Chelsea, for sure no-one is going to win. No-one is going to succeed. No-one is going to be nice with you.

“The fans are not going to love any more another coach at Chelsea. If you compare with the past, when you are in a different project, people need to understand. I’ve tried to explain. I talk, I move my mouth, but you don’t hear.

“I knew it was going to be tough. I knew we were going to need time and belief. The project is about young players, building a new team.”

Asked if he would consider walking away, he replied: “No. Why? Never.”

The situation is in marked contrast to Pochettino’s previous role as head coach at Paris St Germain, where he worked with an established squad assembled by owners who prioritised signing experienced players ready to compete for the biggest honours.

“We love challenge,” Pochettino said. “We came from a different project at Paris St Germain.

“Here the challenge is massive. We accepted to come here knowing that it’s never easy. The pressure and the feeling that you are Chelsea and you need to win.

“But we are so excited to be here and support this project.”

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