No rest for Poch as Chelsea face crucial time

Argentine's mandate is to revive 'sleeping giants'

New Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino.
New Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Image: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

London – As the dust settles on another Premier League season, most managers will be switching off for a few weeks of relaxation before planning for the next campaign. But for new Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, the work starts immediately.

When the Argentine opens the door to his plush office at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground, he will find his in-tray already overflowing.

Chelsea’s 12th-placed finish in the Premier League was their worst since 1994 – hardly what new co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali imagined when they swept in after the sudden collapse of the Roman Abramovich empire.

They have sanctioned around £600m (about R14,7bn) worth of spending to super-size a squad that has proved far less than the sum of its very expensive parts.

Results have been so disappointing that two managers were sacked this season – Champions League-winning Thomas Tuchel in September and Graham Potter, the man Boehly said fitted his “vision” for the club, after only 31 games.

Club great Frank Lampard steered the listing ship to the end of the season as interim manager, but he managed only one win in his nine Premier League games in charge.

No blame will be attached to Lampard, but for American Boehly, the appointment of the man known in the British media as “Poch” simply has to work.

Which is why the summer recess will be crucial for the west London club if they are to re-establish themselves as potential challengers to Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and even Newcastle United next season.

On the plus side for former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris St Germain coach Pochettino, he takes over with the club at such a low ebb that logic suggests things can only get better.

But he still faces many challenges to make that happen.

Firstly, he must forge a workable team in his own image from a bloated squad that needs serious pruning in the coming weeks as the club seeks to lower its wage bill.

Pochettino was widely praised for his work at Tottenham where he revived a similarly under-performing club and turned them into title contenders and Champions League finalists, although he left without winning any silverware.


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