Mauricio Pochettino showed signs of cracking under the pressure after launching a bizarre attack on Liverpool, and further details on when and why the Chelsea axe will fall have come to light.
It’s been another nightmare campaign for Chelsea, with yet another colossal spend in the transfer market not translating into positive results on the field.
There have been a bright spark or two, most notably the incredible form of Cole Palmer. However, all in all Chelsea are stalling and there are few signs of progress under Pochettino.
Pressure on the Argentine is growing after returning a record of 14 wins, six draws and 11 defeats in 31 matches in charge. That equates to a measly win percentage of 45 percent, a figure which is actually below Frank Lampard’s.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup replay with Aston Villa, Pochettino insisted he’s received positive support from the club’s hierarchy.
“I received a very good text from them [the owners]. We are all in this together. That is the most important thing.”
Pochettino, nonetheless, accepts that standards do need to be raised at Chelsea – and he hopes his players can respond to his challenge.
“It’s a tough project but an exciting one,” he added. “In this moment we are living in a situation that is not nice, but we can learn.
“I told the players today in a meeting, ‘I trust in you more than ever’.
“[I also told them that] I am going to support you more than ever. I am not a normal boss. I am a leader, and I need to reflect in every single action I do that I really trust the players.”
Pochettino goes on the offensive… against Liverpool
However, Pochettino also showed signs of a man feeling the heat when putting forward a nonsensical Liverpool comparison.
Pochettino argued Liverpool should have received the same level of criticism for their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal as Chelsea did after losing 4-1 to the Reds four days prior.
“When the expectation is different to the reality, it’s difficult,” Pochettino said.
“After losing to Liverpool, it was “massive, massive fail, oh look at Chelsea how bad it is”.
“When Liverpool lost to Arsenal, I heard nothing but it was a similar result to when we played against Liverpool.”
The differences between Liverpool and Chelsea’s campaigns could not be more stark.
It’s fair to say Liverpool were played off the park by Arsenal, though the Reds still sit atop the Premier League table.
What’s more, the defeat was just Liverpool’s second in the league this season. Their first came in dubious circumstances amid the now-infamous Luis Diaz disallowed goal.
By contrast, Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool was their ninth of the campaign at the time. A tenth would quickly follow when losing 4-2 to Wolves on Sunday – a result that pushed the Blues into the bottom half of the table.
Euro qualification key, as Chelsea delay sack decision
There’s also speculation sacking Pochettino during the season would see the club breach PSR (Profit and Sustainability Rules) by way of the managerial pay-off.
Instead, a decision will reportedly be made by Chelsea’s hierarchy at the end of the campaign and what they will base their call on has been revealed.
The Telegraph stated failure to qualify for European competition next season could be the killer blow for Pochettino.
Chelsea currently sit 11th in the table and five points off West Ham in seventh. However, the League Cup could come to Pochettino’s rescue.
Chelsea will have a chance at redemption when facing Liverpool in the League Cup final on February 25. The winning side will secure qualification for next season’s Europa League.
Defeat at Wembley would leave Pochettino requiring a surge up the table in the latter portion of the season in order to save his skin.