Premier League • England

Pochettino sack: Chelsea axe talk prompts fighting response as ‘Man Utd fan’ Gary Neville feels his wrath

Mauricio Pochettino is less than impressed with Gary Neville's comments

Mauricio Pochettino is less than impressed with Gary Neville's comments

Mauricio Pochettino is adamant his Chelsea job is not on the line and has hit back at claims he is facing the sack and at digs about the club – and in particular comments made by Gary Neville – about how expensive their squad is.

The arrival of the Argentine over the summer was supposed to spark the start of the Chelsea revival, with the 51-year-old seen as one of the best in the business following his spells at Tottenham and PSG. However, despite being afforded more of Todd Boehly and Co’s millions over the summer window, the Blues effectively find themselves exactly where they were one year ago when Graham Potter was axed.

Indeed, Chelsea’s record under Pochettino and Potter is actually close to identical, and with the Blues sat a disappointing 11th in the Premier League table with 10 wins and 10 defeats from their 25 games, pressure has ramped up over Pochettino’s future.

And talk that his reign could be brought to a premature end have gathered pace since Sunday following their lifeless extra-time performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final. With the Reds without the services of several injured stars, the Blues had a great chance to exert their authority over Jurgen Klopp’s young side and win their first piece of silverware since the 2021 Champions League final.


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However, despite coming close to winning the game in 90 minutes, Chelsea let Liverpool off the hook in the subsequent 30 minutes and they were punished to the maximum when Virgil van Dijk rose to head home the winning goal with two minutes remaining.

That triumph has been described as one of Klopp’s finest moments as Liverpool boss. But for every winner, there is a loser and the media was quick to jump all over Chelsea’s failure.

Pochettino bites back at ‘Man Utd fan’ Gary Neville

That chorus was led by Neville who famously harked Chelsea as “Blue billion-pound bottle jobs” in the wake of their tame showing in extra time and subsequent defeat.

Responding to that jibe, Pochettino insists he is sick of hearing the negativity around his side, branding it ‘annoying’ and feels neither Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United face anywhere near the same scrutiny.

“When Chelsea lose, it is always because of, because of, because of,” Pochettino said of the £1billion references. “No, the circumstances of Chelsea are the circumstances of Chelsea. They (the owners) wanted to build something different.

“It is only at the beginning. That’s why we cannot compare it with the past. Always it is Chelsea and it always appears ‘one billion’ and you cannot fight against that idea.”

On Liverpool and City, Pochettino added: “Nothing negative. It’s like, if you win, you win, if you lose, you lose. Nothing happens. But for Chelsea, it is completely different because of the pressure of that (£1bn). For me, it is unfair, but in saying that, I accept the opinions.”

Asked about Neville’s comments, Pochettino added: “He is a Manchester United and just wanted Liverpool to lose.”

Pochettino sack: Blues boss insists he is safe

Climbing up the Wembley steps to receive his runners-up medal, Pochettino appeared to blank co-owner Boehly in another suggestion all is not right between the pair.

However, Pochettino insists he did speak to him after the game and claims that apparent gesture was only because he was fighting back the tears in the wake of the extra-time heartache.

Furthermore, Pochettino is adamant his job at Chelsea remains safe after a message of support from the Blues owners.

“I feel the support from them,” he added. “I cannot lie to you. When I went up the steps at Wembley, I was so upset, nearly crying.

“I got a text later (from Boehly), a very, very nice text. Then I met Behdad [Eghbali; Boehly’s business partner and co-owner] two hours later.”

Asked if he retains their support, Pochettino said: “Why not? I am confident. It is not in my hands. We have a very good relationship. It is up to them after to trust or not. Always.

“Of course we wanted to win the Carabao Cup. We want to win the FA Cup. We want to win the Premier League. Now it’s tough. Our reality is to see if we can qualify to play in Europe next season.”

In time, Pochettino is adamant Chelsea can return to greatness but will just need time to get his players to sing to his rhythm.

“With time we are going to have an amazing team because we are young, we are learning, we are creating something that is starting to appear on the training ground.

“Always it is about time. The problem is that we need time and patience to win games, and we need the patience from the owners to have the possibility to keep going.”

Chelsea return to action against Leeds in the FA Cup on Wednesday night for a place in the quarter-finals and in a competition that represents the Blues’ last shot at silverware this season.

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