Defiant Mauricio Pochettino bites back over Chelsea future doubts

Defiant Mauricio Pochettino bites back over Chelsea future doubts
Mauricio Pochettino got his Chelsea players to respond in the second half - Reuters/Ian Walton

Mauricio Pochettino poured scorn on “rumours” over his job at Chelsea after Conor Gallagher breathed life into their season by returning to haunt Crystal Palace.

Pochettino was dismissive of the “pressure” on him and his players as his side’s second win in less than a week extended their mini-revival following humiliating defeats against Liverpool and Wolves.

The Chelsea manager dubbed Gallagher “priceless”, the midfielder having kick-started that revival in Wednesday’s FA Cup win at Aston Villa before scoring twice against the club he played for on loan to help Chelsea come from behind and climb back into the top half of the Premier League.

Pochettino said: “I don’t care about the rumours. I don’t care about the tension. I don’t care about the pressure. I don’t care about the stresses. We know really well which is our reality and we are going to keep working.”

He was full of praise for Gallagher, who also scored a stoppage-time winner at Palace last season, after the midfielder cancelled out Jefferson Lerma’s long-range opener at the start of the second half and netted at the death again before Enzo Fernandez sealed a 3-1 win.

Gallagher’s second goal sparked wild celebrations, which saw visiting fans break through the Selhurst Park advertising hoarding and Nicolas Jackson – who had earlier been substituted – booked for storming the pitch in unbridled joy.

“He’s a player that with great commitment to the team, always trying to compensate every single situation and that is priceless to have a player like him,” Pochettino said. “So happy for him and for the team. To confirm the reaction after Aston Villa, it was a great opportunity.”

Gallagher’s future is in serious doubt with just over a year remaining on his contract and the 24-year-old could have been sold in the January transfer window.

But Pochettino said: “He told me he wanted to stay at Chelsea and then it is about him and the club.”

Gallagher demonstrated his commitment to the cause by running 13 kilometres against Palace - his best running statistics in a Premier League game.

After being named player of the match, he said: “It didn’t feel that far [to run] to be fair because we had so much of the ball. Consistency is the main thing for us – there’s games when we have been brilliant, games when we have been terrible.”

Defiant Mauricio Pochettino bites back over Chelsea future doubts
Conor Gallagher scored his first two league goals of the season - Getty Images/Vince Mignott

He also apologised to the home fans for condemning Palace to their 13th straight defeat to Chelsea.

“I do love them, that’s the thing,” said Gallagher, who spent a season on loan at Selhurst Park and did not celebrate his matchwinner there last season. “But you can’t beat that feeling. I’m sorry, Palace fans.”

Injury-hit Palace’s defeat left them just five points clear of the relegation zone, with manager Roy Hodgson clinging on to his own job.

He said: “I am not concerned we are going to be relegated, and the way the players played tonight, if you add the quality to that, I don’t think we need to be too concerned about relegation. We are not complacent about it, but I believe in the team and players and believe they will pull us through.”

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