Premier League • England

Mauricio Pochettino sack: Worrying Chelsea axe claim made as timeline on departure is stated

Mauricio Pochettino has told his time may soon be up as Chelsea manager and he could face the sack

Mauricio Pochettino has told his time may soon be up as Chelsea manager

Mauricio Pochettino has been told he is lucky to still remain in the Chelsea job and that the axe already would have swung under the Roman Abramovich reign – with a former Blues star also revealing what the Argentine needs to achieve in order to remain in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

The former Tottenham and PSG coach was appointed Blues manager over the summer in the latest attempt by co-owner Todd Boehly to get the best out of his billion-pound squad. But with Chelsea struggling for consistency – and blowing their big chance of a first ever trophy under the American owners last weekend in the Carabao Cup final – Pochettino remains a man under intense pressure.

Indeed, their form in the Premier League is very much reflective of their mid-table status: 10 wins and 10 defeats from their 25 games played so far tells you all you need to know.

DON’T MISSMauricio Pochettino sack: Eight Chelsea players also fighting for their futures at Stamford Bridge

Worryingly for Pochettino, his Chelsea win percentage record currently sits at a meagre 47.22% – a record remarkably similar to his predecessor Graham Potter when he was removed from duty by Boehly.

Worse yet, the knives have been sharpened for the 52-year-old following last Sunday’s extra-time defeat to Liverpool at Wembley, where their expensively-assembled side let Jurgen Klopp’s patched up young side totally off the hook when many felt the game was there to be won.

That criticism was led by Gary Neville, who labelled Chelsea ‘blue billion-pount bottle jobs’ in a statement that has clearly irked Pochettino and seen him hit back at the Sky Sports pundit on more than one occasion this week.

Pochettino told he’s lucky to have avoided Chelsea sack

Nonetheless, Pochettino needs a strong finish to the season and, while a top-four finish looks beyond them, he will need to steer the Blues back into European competition through either a high Premier League finish (top seven usually secures European football), or, perhaps more importantly, by winning the FA Cup.

The Blues did, just about, despatch of Championship side Leeds on Saturday, by recording a 3-2 victory over Daniel Farke’s side to reach the quarter-finals, where a home date with Leicester is next on the cards.

And with Manchester United and Liverpool facing off, the Blues know it represents another shot at silverware for them this season.

Despite that, former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel claims Pochettino is extremely fortunate the axe has not already swung, with the Nigerian claiming that, had this run of form come under Abramovich, he would already be out of a job.

Nonetheless, while Mikel thinks criticism of Pochettino has been over the top, he has laid down the minimum requirements he needs to keep himself in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

He told the Evening Standard : “Some of the criticism has been over the top, but we went through the same thing playing for Chelsea when we were not winning, getting criticised and watching managers losing their jobs. This is Chelsea. You have to win. You have to win games and trophies.

“Yes, we’ve given them time, but they have had time to start gelling, coming together, and playing much better. I defend the players and coach. They have to be given time, but how much time? This is Chelsea FC. If this was the [Roman] Abramovich era, he would have lost his job.”

Chelsea sack talk prompts new Pochettino response

Assessing what he needs to do to avoid the axe, Mikel added: “But I hope the new owners give Poch time.

“Let’s see where we finish at the end of the season. The final would have given him breathing space but now we need a run of winning games to see where we end up finishing. Then it will be up to the owners to make a decision.”

Despite discussions over his ability to get his sides over the line – Pochettino was also a serial runner-up during his time in charge of Tottenham when they lost both the Champions League final and a chance to win the Premier League title in the year Leicester famously triumphed – the Argentine insists he maintains a strong relationship with the club’s owners.

Nonetheless, he also admits talk over his future is not something he can control.

“It’s not in my hands,” he admitted. “We have a very good relationship with the owners, with the sporting director. It’s up to them to trust or not. It’s not the coach’s decision.”

Chelsea face a short trip across London to face bogey side Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday before hosting Newcastle in the Monday Night Football on March 11.

READ MOREPochettino sack: Assessing the eight candidates who could replace the under-fire Chelsea boss