Burnley Disappointment: Mauricio Pochettino sack decision takes new twist

Burnley Disappointment: Mauricio Pochettino sack decision takes new twist

When Mauricio Pochettino is angry, you know something is up. The Chelsea boss is often a calm man on the sidelines, reserved in press conferences, and has so far largely avoided criticising his young side in public.

This has been used as a stick to beat him with in recent months as performance levels drop and supporters demand a more charismatic icon on the sidelines. When he does let the mask slip, it often represents something extra.

Only after the horrific 4-1 defeat to Newcastle in November – notably also after an international break – did the head coach start to bemoan the shortcomings so visible on the field. Although injuries, inexperience, and fatigue remain mitigating factors for results, there is little that excuses failing to defeat the 19th-placed team when facing ten men for over 45 minutes.

Chelsea were even handed a huge slice of luck in taking the lead in the first half as Mykhailo Mudryk was awarded with a penalty for what looked to be a poor touch and minimal contact inside the area. The visitors were dealt a double whammy when Lorenz Assignon was sent off for his role.

Head coach Vincent Kompany was perfectly justified in losing his cool in the way he did after what had been a fighting start to the game for his relegation-bound side. That Burnley were able to calm themselves and respond so strongly at Stamford Bridge without the presence of Kompany on Saturday while Chelsea crumbled is damning on a group of players and a manager that continue to fall short on so many measures.

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The boos that followed at full-time were nothing short of expected. The reaction online, both in anger and apathy, was just as predictable. After 28 games Chelsea are 11th, one place better off than they finished last term but without ever delivering more than flashes of promise.

And so the post-mortem of yet another disappointing result and performance is in full flow. Nobody comes out looking particularly good.

Pochettino is struggling to get the best of an expensively assembled group of young players so far unable to gel, break down inferior opposition or withstand pressure whilst reacting to adversity. The sporting directors are in full view having been behind the squad building which poses such great questions on a weekly basis whilst the owners sit at the top of the food chain.

Moving forward and another managerial change is well and truly on the cards. Pochettino will be assessed at the end of the season and with every passing blip like Burnley, it becomes harder to imagine him achieving enough or demonstrating ample improvement within the group to appease those who had such high hopes – and even then it was much less than has been asked of previous Chelsea sides.

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So again in March, entering April, Chelsea are understandably considering their options. If Pochettino is to leave, and the cohort that is behind him leaving just 12 months into his stay is only growing, then once more a replacement must be found.

This would be the fourth permanent manager under Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital in just two years, it would be their third hire having inherited Thomas Tuchel. Much like the period between parting with Graham Potter and appointing Pochettino was spent weighing up options and ensuring that the next call was the right one, Chelsea will be tasked with making a vital decision that has the potential to make or break the medium-to-long-term future of the club.

Get this next decision wrong and it could set things back a long way. Three failures in a row in the hot seat brings attention on more than just the coach with the hierarchy creating this environment in the first place being scrutinised. If the seeds of doubt around the club aren’t there already, then another manager under fire would exacerbate things.

Chelsea aren’t the only club in the world who might be looking for such a messianic figure, though. We already know that Barcelona, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich are all in the market. Manchester United might be, Newcastle too. Who knows what merry-go-round could mean for other vacancies opening up.

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Xabi Alonso’s confirmation that he will not be leaving Bayer Leverkusen only adds to a general state of panic and apprehension. Liverpool must replace Jurgen Klopp after nine years, Bayern need to find a head coach capable of bringing a disconnected club back together, Manchester United are Manchester United and under new sporting control.

What the first two clubs have in their advantage beyond being truly elite establishments is that they have already gone public with their plans to change. Liverpool and Bayern can canvass new coaches freely in a way Chelsea can’t whilst still standing by Pochettino, at least until the end of the season.

Unlike 12 months ago when only Chelsea and Tottenham were having such a shift, this summer promises to be tougher to navigate. Chelsea will have to compete against clubs that function more like machines and can frankly pitch more stability and planning.

With Roberto De Zerbi and Ruben Amorim both on the shortlists of competing teams across Europe, the chances of Chelsea getting a top pick is reduced. Whether this changes their stance regarding Pochettino or not will have to be seen, but it’s far from ideal.

 

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