Mauricio Pochettino’s last-minute celebrations could serve as a turning point with Chelsea fans

Mauricio Pochettino – Mauricio Pochettino's last-minute celebrations could serve as a turning point with Chelsea fans

As Mauricio Pochettino wildly conducted the celebrations of the Chelsea supporters from the pitch following the dramatic victory over Manchester United, those observing wondered whether or not a genuine connection had been made.

Chelsea fans like their managers to be a little crazy – just ask Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel – and Pochettino’s genuine show of passion might be just as important as Cole Palmer’s heroics to the club’s season and even the future of the head coach.

Put simply, it’s pretty easy for owners to dispense with a manager that nobody’s particularly bothered about, let alone a former Tottenham Hotspur head coach who some away supporters had sung should “f--- off” during the draw with Brentford.

But if Pochettino can make a connection with the crowd, then co-controlling owners Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali and Jose E Feliciano will find it more difficult to change yet another coach, having already sacked one fans’ favourite in Tuchel.

One suspects Graham Potter would have been given more time if he had somehow made himself more popular. One attempt at an f-bomb when trying to convince Chelsea fans that his team could win last season’s Champions League fell flat and he was put out to pasture not long afterwards, despite all the data suggesting results would eventually catch up with performances.

There will still be those who believe Pochettino should go at the end of the season, regardless, and it may be a view shared by some inside Stamford Bridge. There are also still those who value continuity and believe he can build something, but he will only do so with the majority of fans behind him.

Rightly or wrongly, football is a popularity contest these days and Pochettino will only survive at Chelsea if he can get the supporters on side. Without them, just as all managers are, he is finished.

But the Argentine knows he cannot fake it and warned after the victory over United that the club should appoint a clown, instead of a coach, if they want somebody to put on a show on the touchline every week.

Cole Palmer's goal in the final 80 seconds sparked wild celebrations from Pochettino on the touchline - Reuters/Dylan Martinez

“It is not a circus that you need a clown on the touchline,” said Pochettino. “We are one of the youngest teams in Europe and we need to be calm in everything you tell them to help. I am not a clown, I am a head coach. If someone wants a clown, find a clown.”

He might not be a clown, but Pochettino knows only too well how powerful energy between the coach and the supporters can be from his time at Tottenham.

Those who watched him break down in tears when Spurs completed an incredible Champions League semi-final comeback against Ajax were quick to point out the fact that it was the Dutch club’s former manager Erik Ten Hag who was again on the wrong end of Pochettino-inspired late drama on Thursday night.

Those Spurs links will just not go away and have undoubtedly been held against him by some. Pochettino knows that he took a chance with the Chelsea fans, but hopes even his detractors will recognise genuine passion when they see it.

“I came from a different club and it’s normal, you need to convince,” said Pochettino. “You arrive at Chelsea in a project that is different to the last 20 years.

“I played with my reputation to come here also, into a project that is to build a team with young talented players with the possibility of the potential to become top players. For us, we knew that was a massive challenge. A challenge of building a team, winning games, being competitive and to take the risk with the fans.

“But I’m not going to be a populist. I said from the beginning that I want to build a genuine relationship – not to kiss the badge or to do stupid things on the touchline to win the benefit of the fans.

“What I want is to provide to the team the tools to win games, believe in ourselves and build a very good relationship. I am not here to be a populist or a hypocrite and say ‘Oh I love the fans’ because I know, it is always about time to build this relationship.”

It did not take long for Chelsea’s social media team to post a video of Pochettino’s passionate celebrations following the United victory. But those who were at Selhurst Park to see the reaction to a late win against Crystal Palace will know these moments can pass quickly.

Sunday’s trip to Sheffield United, a game that Chelsea simply have to win, could provide an early test of just how far fans are prepared to back Pochettino if the Blues face any adversity at Bramall Lane. The next visitors to Stamford Bridge are Everton, when we will see if a connection with the home crowd really has been made.

“The most important thing, before we talk about the pitch, the tactics, many things, is to go to the game with a good energy, a good connection,” said Pochettino. “The fans are so important in football.

“Today I am so happy, not only for the three points or that our performance was better than Manchester United, but that I think this was my first time here at Stamford Bridge that I started to feel the connection with the fans. That is going to be really helpful for us u

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