Pochettino Gone at Chelsea: Was He the Problem?

Pochettino and Chelsea Part Ways

Mauricio Pochettino’s time in charge of Chelsea comes to an end after the conclusion of the 2023/24 Premier League season. The club announced that both parties have mutually agreed to part ways, freeing up a top managerial seat in European football.

Sporting Directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley on the Argentinian’s departure:

“On behalf of everyone at Chelsea, we would like to express our gratitude to Mauricio for his service this season. He will be welcome back to Stamford Bridge any time and we wish him all the very best in his future coaching career.”

Now the question is whether this is starting to become something of the norm for Chelsea, just sacking coaches when things do not go to plan?

The Origin

The club seems to be juggling managers since the sacking of Thomas Tuchel in September of 2022 just one month into the season. Graham Potter was sacked on April 2023, not being able to manage for a whole complete season with Frank Lampard taking over as an interim coach for the remainder of 2022/23. Finally, Pochettino seemed to be the man to rebuild Chelsea, signing a two-year contract with the option for a third, but just a year later, it is back to square one.

This Season

The Argentinian coach had a slow start to his Chelsea career struggling to get into the top 10 in the league for the first months. A squad lacking in maturity and experience was full of young players with huge price tags that only added more pressure to the process was one of the main reasons for the team’s inconsistencies.

However, in the second half of the season, they found their rhythm and finished off with a strong 15-game run collecting nine wins, five draws and just one defeat. This allowed them to take sixth place over Manchester United and Newcastle and secure at least UEFA Conference League spot. That place could even become a Europa League spot if Manchester City wins the FA Cup final on Saturday.

So if the second half of the season turnaround was not enough to continue, What was expected from Mauricio Pochettino this season? The team went from finishing 12th last season to qualifying for Europe. They played the FA Cup semifinals against Manchester City and failed to progress by the smallest of margins also facing a very harsh refereeing mistake.

They lost the EFL Cup final against Liverpool in the dying moments of extra time in a game that could have gone either way. He built a young team with a style of play that started to achieve results. It is far from being a great season for Chelsea but it’s a clear improvement from their recent situation. If the club’s management expectation was winning titles or competing for the top 4 against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the first season, they were just not being realistic.

There are no doubts that Mauricio Pochettino leaves Chelsea in a much better place than where he found it as he closes a short but compliant cycle as manager. However, behind the mutual agreement, it seems more likely the club’s management did not trust the Argentinian to continue with the project rather than him leaving after the first step of the road.

What is Next?

It would be very unlikely for Chelsea to make such a decision without being certain of his replacement but it also wouldn’t be a surprise coming from this new management. A long list of names is already linked to the position with Kieran McKenna, Hansi Flick, and Rúben Amorim as the favourites.

Roberto de Zerbi, who left Brighton at the end of the season and hinted at a desire to continue in the Premier League might be another possibility. Thomas Tuchel is also among the list of potential managers in a move that would reunite the two main protagonists of this Chelsea manager saga.

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