Premier League – PSG and now Chelsea: Pochettino, is he made for these projects?

Premier League – PSG and now Chelsea: Pochettino, is he made for these projects?
Premier League – PSG and now Chelsea: Pochettino, is he made for these projects?

A year and then the door. Mauricio Pochettino will not have stayed long this time on the banks of the Thames. At Stamford Bridge, the former coach of Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain will only have had twelve short months. And if the timing of his departure may be surprising as Chelsea finally seemed to have found some color in recent weeks, his ouster raises questions about his status as manager.

Chelsea are of course a special case. Since American businessman Todd Boehly and his consortium of investors took charge in May 2022, the Blues bench has become a very unstable ejection seat. And it is not Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter who will say the opposite. Pochettino also has his share of excuses to make in his case. Between a young squad and a group built with hundreds of millions for two years now without necessarily having a clear logic, the Argentinian also had to deal with long key injuries during this exercise (editor’s note: Reece James, Christopher Nkunku or even Romeo Lavia).

Chelsea’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on April 27, 2024. (Photo by Darren Staples / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO ED

Credit: Getty Images

Excuses but also culpable shortcomings

However, this 2023-24 season has long been difficult. The Blues have certainly raised the bar in 2024 before offering themselves a fine final sprint to snatch sixth place in order to compete in a European competition next season, unlike this year. But this is not the Champions League, the objective hoped for by Todd Boehly and others. And despite the 14 players landed for just over 500 million euros since his arrival, Pochettino took a long time to find a formula worthy of the name. Chelsea never even had a set game plan. And his group seemed to lack character.

Appreciated by the locker room, the Argentinian would however surely have deserved to have more time to put his principles in place while the London squad still lacks experience and must grow together after so many lively transfer windows. His end of the season or his impact in the spectacular progression of Cole Palmer could also have argued for him. But while no team had ever invested so much for such a mediocre return on investment, the Chelsea board, marked by the complicated months, no longer had confidence. And for Pochettino, it’s starting to mean a lot.

In Paris, he had already shown some limits with this style of project

While his rating was very high when he was at Tottenham, who he led to the Champions League final in 2019 after having acquired his nobility in the Premier League, the former PSG and Bordeaux defender now remains on two failures at the head of ambitious projects. Because before Chelsea, there was PSG. And in his former club which had reached the C1 final for the first time in its history six months earlier, Pochettino had already broken his teeth.

For a year and a half in Paris and while he saw Lille steal the French champion title in 2021, the Argentinian never really dared, ultimately failing to impose his personality on his squad. He even seemed to suffer the arrival of Lionel Messi, failing to make strong choices to rebalance his eleven. He had then perhaps shown the limits of his philosophy and his management so praised in the Kingdom during the Spurs era. His experience at Chelsea didn’t really reassure him on that front.

Twice in a row, Pochettino has therefore failed to lead clubs with colossal resources. The technicians who are “lucky” to find themselves at the head of this style of projects are not legion in the world of football. So, did he miss his chance? Maybe not. The end of the Blues season speaks for him. And Chelsea remains considered a special case given the catastrophic management of Todd Boehly. Everyone also keeps in mind the Argentinian’s repeated feats at the head of Spurs. Moreover, the English press echoed this Wednesday the day after the announcement of his ouster of interest from Manchester United or even Bayern Munich, who would have finally reached an agreement with Vincent Kompany. Major clubs which could offer him a new (and perhaps last) chance to demonstrate that he has the shoulders for this kind of project!

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