Tribal Football

Pochettino's Chelsea split: With their crazy criteria any replacement will be downgrade

Pochettino's Chelsea split: With their crazy criteria any replacement will be downgrade
Pochettino's Chelsea split: With their crazy criteria any replacement will be downgrade
Pochettino's Chelsea split: With their crazy criteria any replacement will be downgradeAction Plus
COMMENT: Well, he's come up smelling like roses, hasn't he? Or is that lemons? The one man to emerge with reputation not only intact - but enhanced - from this latest Chelsea fiasco is their now former manager...

It's a mess. A farce. How else can you describe it? Mauricio Pochettino is gone. After somehow dragging this Chelsea team into a sixth place finish, the owners - at least one of them - deemed the Argentine still not the right fit. And so another managerial split occurs under this board.


And with that, Chelsea start yet again. A new manager. New staff. New relationships to build. A new style and tactics to bed down. With the momentum they had. With the spirit and belief garnered from that winning streak... Well, it's all back to square one.

For once, Blues fans shouldn't blame Todd Boehly. The American is being hammered today - especially after his bullish comments just a fortnight ago.

"We've seen the last two and a half games," stated Boehly at the Sportico conference in the 'States, "at least in the second half at Aston Villa (2-2 draw) and Tottenham and West Ham where we played just beautiful football.

"It was so fluid, it was exactly the way we drew it up, when we came out of the back, built up and moved up the pitch, (it was) very organised and the number of shots we had on board. In those two and a half games, you could really start to see what we were working on coming together."

Exactly. Correct. It was coming together. It did come together. Five wins from the past six games. One defeat in 15. Chelsea stormed the UEFA places with a sixth place finish and Europa League qualification. And it was done against all odds. Regulars of this column will know how we wrote Chelsea off as a mid-table team at best - and we still believe that. But beyond that, even if you believed this team did have the right quality, Poch managed to secure their finish without their captain, Reece James, and without their hoped-for leading striker, Christopher Nkunku. This late season form... it just wasn't supposed to happen. But Pochettino made it so.

So Boehly, with those words, was spot on. And this column understands his opinion hasn't changed. Instead, the driver of this decision was his fellow co-owner, Behdad Eghbali - with the support of sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Lawrence Stewart. Traditionally, particularly on the continent, the sporting director who recommended the coach will follow him out the door when sacked. That Winstanley and Stewart remain firmly in their positions really does sum up how today's Chelsea is being run. And the crazy thing (among many crazy things) is that Poch was the one manager to make their transfer choices actually look good.

There's no football sense to it. And it's wrong to attempt to fuse what we're seeing from this lot with the hire-and-fire approach of Roman Abramovich. Chelsea's former owner only wanted one thing: to win. He wasn't interested in interfering. He just wanted silverware. And when the team fell short of that, the manager was gone.

Today's Chelsea is a different story. The standards. The players. The targets. Apart from the Blue shirt, it bears no resemblance to the teams of the Abramovich era. Pochettino didn't leave because on-field targets weren't met. His players overachieved.

Instead, the split occurred because Eghbali and co don't want a manager in the traditional sense. They want a coach. Basically a 'yes man'. He won't have a say on the players signed. Nor the staff hired. Indeed, the appointment of the set-piece coach Bernardo Cueva from Brentford was done without any input from Pochettino. There'll even be 'suggestions' on tactics and selection - as we've learned regarding the pairing of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez in midfield. Something which was questioned by Poch's higher ups.

Chelsea are now seeking a younger 'coach'. Not a Poch or a Thomas Tuchel. More a Graham Potter. Yep, they really are going back to square one. And every name mentioned will be a downgrade of the man they've pushed out.

Enzo Maresca. Kieran McKenna. Both now Premier League managers with the promoted Leicester City and Ipswich Town respectively. They're the latest names being raised. But at this stage in their careers, they're not in the class of Pochettino. At least not in a traditional football sense. But in a Chelsea sense...?

Of course, Roberto de Zerbi is now free from Brighton. But given he walked over the club's ambitions, the Italian is surely a non-starter for today's Chelsea. Which really gets at the heart of it. Not only have Eghbali and co forced out the one manager who had the team and the club back on the rails - but they're also limiting their options for a successful replacement by this non-traditional criteria.

Back to square one? Or is it worse? If the next man will be more Potter than Poch, well Chelsea fans you have your answer...