Mauricio Pochettino: I have had reassurances from Chelsea owners my job is safe

Mauricio Pochettino during a press conference
Mauricio Pochettino admits he finds criticism of Chelsea's spending irritating - Getty Images/Darren Walsh

Mauricio Pochettino claims he “feels the support” of the Chelsea hierarchy and held positive face-to-face talks with co-owner Behdad Eghbali in the wake of Sunday’s disappointing Carabao Cup final defeat by Liverpool.

The under-pressure Chelsea head coach also received a “very, very nice text” from the other co-owner Todd Boehly and said he is “confident” he will get time to make the club successful.

“Why not?” Pochettino said. “I am confident. Until they decide to tell me something else. But, at the moment, I don’t think they are going to tell me anything different.”

Pochettino urged Chelsea to follow the examples of Manchester City and Liverpool in giving their managers the time to succeed – with Jurgen Klopp taking almost four years before winning his first trophy, the Champions League in 2019.

“And the result [of being patient]?” Pochettino asked. “Which type of result are they getting? Are they successful or not?

“Klopp was given the support by the club and to keep going, changing players, changing the way to play. Now, they are getting what they deserve because of that.

“For us, after seven months, eight months, to get to the final is a massive achievement in this project because we cannot say nothing different.

“No one says anything negative [about Liverpool or City]. It’s like if you win, you win, if you lose, you lose, it’s OK. Nothing happens.

“But in Chelsea it is completely different because of the pressure of that [£1billion spent on the squad]. For me, it is unfair, but in saying that, I accept the opinions.”

The mention of the massive spending, since Boehly and Eghbali acquired control, is an irritant to Pochettino and he admitted he finds it “annoying”.

“Always this £1billion [figure]. I don’t know. It’s, I feel, unfair. It’s my view from here,” he said. “When Chelsea lose it is always because of, because of, because of [spending too much]. No, the circumstances of Chelsea are the circumstances of Chelsea.

“When the new owners arrived with the intentions, they wanted to build something different from the past. That’s what we have to understand. We are part of this structure that wants to move forward, this project, but it is only at the beginning.

“That’s why we cannot compare it with the past. We were talking about [Nicolas] Jackson needing to score. But Jackson cannot compare with [Didier] Drogba. Drogba was one of the best strikers in the world. It is difficult for another Drogba to appear.”

Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly (left) and Behdad Eghbali (right) during the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium
Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly (left) and Behdad Eghbali (right) during the Carabao Cup final - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

The other £1 billion question, of course, is whether Pochettino will be granted the time he wants. The 51-year-old signed a two-year deal last summer, with the option for a third season, but is under fierce scrutiny with Chelsea 11th in the Premier League and having lost Sunday’s final to a vastly-depleted Liverpool.

It makes Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Leeds United even more crucial with qualification for European competition likely to a crucial factor in determining Pochettino’s future. He admitted Europe was “always the objective” but said he had not formally been told he needed to qualify. “From who? From the sporting directors and the owners? No. I don’t remember, I don’t,” he said.

Asked about the owners, Pochettino added: “I feel the support from them. I cannot lie to you. When I went up the steps at Wembley, I was so upset. Nearly crying. When I arrived there, it was so difficult to stop myself. But when I saw Behdad, I saw Todd and I shook hands with both of them, one of them with one hand, the other with my other hand.

“Then I got a text later, a very, very nice text which I can show. Then I met Behdad two hours later, away from Wembley in London. He was really, really good and was disappointed like everyone but happy with the performance in 90 minutes, but knew we couldn’t keep that energy in extra-time. I think people are clever enough to understand.”

Does this mean he will get time?

“It’s not in my hands,” Pochettino said. “We have very good relationship with the owners, with the sporting directors. It is up to them after to trust or not. Always. It’s not in the coach’s decision.”

He added that “no one put the gun in our head and said, ‘You need to sign here’” when he agreed to take over at Chelsea and that the club’s history shows it has acted quickly to change coach in the past – even post-Roman Abramovich where he is already the third manager to work under the new regime.

But Pochettino added: “The problem is that we need time and patience to win games. And we need the patience from the owner to give the possibility to keep going.”

He contradicted the narrative that Liverpool’s team who finished the final were younger – Chelsea’s actually were with an average age of 22.6 years compared to 24.1 years, although that argument misses the point that Klopp’s team was certainly far more inexperienced including three academy teenagers with barely any first-team minutes.

“They say young guys go onto the pitch but Malo Gusto is 20, Cole Palmer is 21, ‘but you paid £50 million’, but he’s the same age as a guy who is playing for Liverpool. That is how you judge the team,” Pochettino argued.

“That is an amazing thing because you say [Liverpool] a young team – yes, but we were younger than them. Always it’s Chelsea and it always appears ‘one billion’ and you cannot fight against that idea.”

Christopher Nkunku, who came on as substitute at Wembley, suffered another injury set-back ruling him out for up to four weeks.

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