May 29th. An iconic day in the history of Chelsea Football Club, the first word that springs to mind is either Porto or Havertz.
Fast forward to 2023, it was the day Pochettino was confirmed as the new Chelsea head coach. That was 226 days ago, that is 226 days of squad planning and creating patterns of play to see the progress.
I can admit that Pochettino has been dealt a tough blow over the summer with very late movement in the transfer market, signings such as Caicedo and both goalkeepers were made far too late.
The signing of Cole Palmer was far too late in the window and seemed like a reaction to Chukwuemeka getting injured at West Ham, yet he’s our best player so far this season.
Once again I highlight those 226 days, you understand if the season starts off slow.
Defeats to West Ham, Nottingham Forest & Aston Villa are hard ones to take but at the same time you could see the plan and some signs of ‘this is going to take time’.
The eye opening moments, where the questions need to be asked towards Pochettino is what on earth has happened since the November international break finished?
The defeat at Newcastle seemed somewhat normal at the time but they have only won 2 of their last 7 Premier League matches since that day. We lost 4-1 after a capitulation.
We have also seen that capitulation at Old Trafford and Goodison Park, both in the space of a week.
There are arguments that the players Pochettino has at his disposal aren’t good enough but any manager from the outside looking in would love to build a team around Moises Caicedo, Cole Palmer, Enzo Fernández and basing off his Brighton performances last season, Levi Colwill.
The reality is Colwill has been moved across as a left back due to Pochettino’s insistence of not playing Maatsen and that has left us exposed.
Secondly with the quality of midfield, it’s criminal to move around two £100m players for Conor Gallagher. A) Because you are making Enzo’s purpose significantly weaker. B) You are leaving massive holes leaving Gallagher to cover for Caicedo. The former is rarely seen as proven by ‘average position’ maps.
Running can only get you so far in football.
You may think Chelsea turned a corner after the Everton defeat if you look at results. The opposition and how the game was won needs context especially if you are banging the drum of ‘performance means more than points’.
A 2-0 victory over Sheffield United and a Carabao Cup victory over Newcastle. The league win felt like a mandatory chore given Sheffield United were bottom of the Premier League and the Carabao Cup win was one of the most frustrating games I have watched from my seat at Stamford Bridge this season.
Player’s playing out of position, throwing everyone forward out of pure hope for large parts, passing around the box because nobody made any movement and then it took a moment of luck from Trippier to give us a lifeline.
Then we go onto Christmas Eve, this one so much it’s hard to put the blame on Pochettino as all Raheem Sterling had to do was pass it for a likely comfortable win but the game a few days later against Crystal Palace rang a few alarm bells.
If you check the statistics after the Crystal Palace game you will think we were deserved winners but when it came to watching the 90 minutes, we looked a threat for the opening 25 minutes.
After that, the game stayed in first gear, a mentality problem under Pochettino and then all of a sudden we go in level. It took a penalty from Noni Madueke to separate the sides, in a game where a draw would have been a fair reflection.
The Luton game is a hard one to get frustrated with as every single top team who have been to Kenilworth Road have been made to work for it. Chelsea were in dreamland going 3-0 up but the response after the third goal was nothing short of embarrassing.
No organisation, hardly any attempt to make changes for the better and it took 20 year old Alfie Gilchrist to come on and stable the sinking ship.
Just as we believe Chelsea have the momentum heading into 2024 and think we perhaps are going somewhere. The club are handed with the task of 180 minutes against Championship opposition across two competitions.
How Pochettino has managed to be out coached and performed in 135 of those 180 is impressive!
The Preston first half was a massive eye opener and had ESPN pundit, Julien Laurens saying, “Nobody can tell me this team is improving! I don’t see any improvement week after week, game after game.”
That was following a 4-0 victory so who knows what he would have said watching Chelsea struggle to a low block once again last night.
So it goes back to the opening paragraph. In 226 days, where is the progress Mauricio Pochettino? Look at what Ange Postecoglou is doing with his Tottenham team who just lost the best striker in the world. Meanwhile Chelsea can’t beat a team who sit bottom half in the Championship with as many as 14 players unavailable.
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