Mauricio Pochettino strikes back against Tottenham as Chelsea project gains momentum

03 May 2024 1744
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Reflections from Stamford Bridge: Since the summer of 2022 when Todd Boehly and BlueCo assumed control of Chelsea, there have been limited noteworthy moments.

The first season under their leadership concluded disappointingly with Chelsea landing at 12th place, despite exhibiting a FIFA Club World champions badge. This was a stark evidence of their swift decline.

In 2022/23, after having rotated through four interim coaches, Mauricio Pochettino was given the responsibility to rebuild Chelsea from scratch. The aim was to rectify a bloated squad, prioritize youth development, and improve existing players.

During the last spring, indications were that Pochettino might return to his former club, Tottenham Hotspur to succeed Antonio Conte. Although Spurs fans vocally supported him during games, he was not approached by the club at all.

Tottenham settled for Ange Postecoglou and under him, they led the Premier League table by autumn. But during a Chelsea visit to N17 in November, Pochettino seemed overwhelmed in his first return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Despite Chelsea's dominant 4-1 victory being more attributable to Tottenham's breakdown rather than their own genius, Pochettino's contribution to their win in the reverse fixture cannot be undermined.

Tottenham's disappointment at Stamford Bridge was surprisingly high this time. In spite of a strong performance against Arsenal ending in a 3-2 loss, it was believed that Postecoglou's squad would carry some momentum into the match against Chelsea. However, that didn't happen.

Pochettino had to manage with barely 11 fit senior players. Yet, he managed to lead them to the perfect game.

Two goals from Trevoh Chalobah and Nicolas Jackson, both originating from free-kicks, secured a comfortable win for Chelsea over Tottenham. The defensive solidity, a characteristic Pochettino is known for instilling, was evident.

In contrast, Postecoglou grew frustrated with his team's lack of composure, coherence, and overall personality. They failed to shine and became another casualty of Stamford Bridge.

Despite Pochettino's position being under scrutiny through the first season in west London, his players never conceded defeat. A strong spirit exists amongst them, which helps mitigate the difference in talent in some areas. The players who were available for the match synergized effectively on the field and adhered to Pochettino's style of play.

In his time at Tottenham, Pochettino was known for his problem-solving skills. His teams were seldom on losing streaks, and even when they were, he knew how to turn things around. He often bore the brunt of negative news and results for the benefit of the team.

This selfless trait is evident within Chelsea and the team needs to continue backing him. Where Postecoglou's obstinacy cost Tottenham, particularly with their set-piece issues, Pochettino's squad found ways to secure victory, showcasing resilience and determination.

Tottenham overlooked Pochettino the previous year in their search for a capable successor. His initial tenure with them fell apart when he failed to initiate a new chapter. Amid Chelsea's chaotic circumstances, he continues to provide stability to the team. They are currently just three points behind a Europa League spot as they enter the final phase of the season, despite difficulties encountered thus far.