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Pochettino deserves better: Why Chelsea wrong keeping manager out of transfer decision-making

COMMENT: So do they want him or not? Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino. Do those who hired the Argentine see him as a long-term prospect or not..?

Eight goals in a week. A win at Spurs. A draw with the champions. With things on the up at Stamford Bridge, it seems a silly question. But it must be raised: how serious is this board about their manager being in charge long-term?

We ask, as it broke this week that Pochettino is being frozen out of the transfer decision-making. He'll have a say. He can offer his opinion. But there'll be no power of veto. No opportunity to insist on a certain player's signing. That's for the sporting directors, Paul Winstanley and Lawrence Stewart. For Poch, even with his experience at Tottenham and PSG. For his titles. For his run to the Champions League final. Despite all that, when it comes to transfers, he'll be marginalised. Frozen out. And you just wonder, how will this be perceived in and around the club and dressing room?

It's been only three months, but Pochettino is the flagship of this club. The main man. In good or bad times, it's the manager who is pushed out in public. We don't hear from Winstanley. Nor Stewart. Nor the co-owners, Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali. Instead it's Poch and Poch alone. He is effectively the face of Chelsea. There's no Didier Drogba or Frank Lampard to share the burden. Reece James will try, but in the public arena, the words of his manager carry far, far more weight.

So given such demands. Such responsibilities. You'd think management would 'bring in' Pochettino. Involve him totally in all football decision-making. Encourage him. Urge him. Have the manager immerse himself fully in everything Chelsea do. Allow Pochettino to get his finger prints on all aspects of the footballing-side of the club.

Instead, there is a real danger of detachment. Of dis-engagement. That Pochettino is simply another gun for hire. He'll do his job. He'll clock on. He'll clock off. But he'll not live it. He'll not breathe it. And that's just not how the culture of English football works.

Of course, this is in the future. A perceived future. But perception in football can quickly become reality. For this column, it's clear Pochettino is 'all-in'. As we say, we see that with his passion for these players he's taken on. He'll rage at the ref. He'll rant at his own fans. He's coaching with his heart on his sleeve - and the players are responding.

So given all that, why keep the manager at arm's length when it comes to transfers? It's been a decent week for Chelsea. But the place is still wobbling. It's still in flux. Why promote and encourage this perception of detachment? Particularly for a manager who's already showing clear signs of 'bleeding Blue'?

As we say, it's been a good week for the club. But on paper, we're still only talking about an away win against nine men and a score draw at home - conceding four goals in the process. It's not the stuff of champions. Nor even top four contenders. But given how low the club has been this calendar year, it was a bright six days for Chelsea FC.

However, even with the mega spending, there's still holes in this team. A question about their goalkeeping depth. The experience of their back four. And the lack of an outright centre-forward upfront.

Indeed, it's that choice of No9 which could make or break Pochettino's time at Chelsea. Nicolas Jackson, for this column, isn't a Premier League centre-forward. And he's certainly not a Pochettino centre-forward. He can succeed in a front three, certainly. But for the way Pochettino likes his team to play, Jackson isn't the one to lead the line.

In that final week of the summer market, after victory over Luton, Pochettino spoke openly about the team issues he wanted addressing: "We work, the result today was positive, and still we talked like a keeper and an offensive player more, of the right profile.

"We are working to find this profile that I think we need. We cannot change if we lose or win, it's what we need to provide the team with good balance. Still we need one offensive player more if it is possible to achieve what we want."

Pochettino needs his choice of centre-forward. And he needs to be allowed to make this call - as he does all other transfer decisions. For this column, Chelsea have a manager who wants to be 100 per cent involved - but is being told he can only work at 75 per cent. That's no way for a Premier League club to run. And the longer this restraint exists, the wider the detachment will become.

In these three months, Pochettino has shown Chelsea they have a manager to take the team forward. To carry the club on his shoulders. He doesn't deserve to be treated as just another gun for hire.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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