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Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea youngsters struggling with pressure

Mauricio Pochettino (C) - Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea youngsters struggling with pressure
Mauricio Pochettino (centre) said that some of his players did not sleep ahead of the Carabao Cup final - Getty Images/Darren Walsh

Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Chelsea’s young squad are struggling to deal with the pressure of playing for the club as they attempt to book another Wembley appearance.

‌And ahead of a second cup quarter-final of the season, Pochettino attempted to lighten the atmosphere by holding an Argentine barbeque for players and staff at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Friday.

‌Chelsea entertain Leicester City in the last eight of the FA Cup on Sunday, with the winners moving to the semi-finals that will be played at Wembley.

‌Pochettino’s team were beaten by Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last month and the Argentine has said that some of his players did not sleep ahead of that game.

‌He is hoping that experience will help his players should they get to Wembley again and Pochettino, together with his staff, are attempting to help his young players develop in “all areas of their life” as they adjust to what can be an unforgiving environment at Chelsea.

Cole Palmer has thrived under the spotlight, but Pochettino said: “At the same time that you ask me about Cole Palmer, not all the players have the same process in settling at the club or to perform. We are in a process that, of course, the main group, the main young players…of course they struggle a little bit to deal with the pressure to play for Chelsea.

‌“That is the thing we are aware of and we are focusing on trying to help them in all the areas. Because when you have this young squad, it’s not only to help them in training, in the two hours maybe of that. We have spent a lot of time talking. Talking with the people that work around these guys, who are important, too.

‌“OK, it’s one hour-and-a-half or two hours of training, but it’s nearly 24 hours that we are thinking about how to help. Because if we are capable to improve or to help them in all the different areas in their life, I think afterwards the easiest thing is to help them to perform on the pitch.”

‌Chelsea this week reached an agreement for set-piece specialist Bernado Cueva to join from Brentford in the summer to work within a new department the club are setting up.

‌Having appeared to have been sceptical over the influence of set-piece coaches last month, Pochettino has insisted he will welcome any new appointments.

‌He did, however, stress that it will be his decision, rather than the club’s, whether or not a set-piece specialist joins him on the touchline or in the technical area in future.

‌Pochettino said: “Of course, we are aware that the club want to create an area of set-pieces, a global area to reinforce the area that is already settled here and we are very supportive about that.

‌“That is the idea of the owners, that is the idea of the sporting directors and we are very supportive. Of course, they have the leadership and are in charge to reinforce all the areas, and yes we gave our opinion.”

‌Cueva directs Brentford’s players from the touchline and was even booked on his visit to Stamford Bridge this season. Pochettino added: “I am the head coach and I am going to decide if I’m going to add more people or not to the touchline. But the most important thing is to reinforce and to be better, and always we are open to improve. If some people come here to add their knowledge and to help us and to be better, very welcome.”

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