Mauricio Pochettino was unveiled as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge – Getty Images/Darren Walsh
By Sam Wallace, at Stamford Bridge
Mauricio Pochettino arrived at Chelsea on Friday declaring that he believed in the plan drawn up for the restoration of the club’s fortunes under the Todd Boehly-Behdad Eghbali ownership that endured such a rocky first season.
Speaking at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino revealed that he had been briefed by the clubs co-sporting doctors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart on the first team squad, and it was explained to him why many decisions had been made.
“They presented to me and we talked about many different circumstances, many personal situations [of players]. I trusted them. I said you know better than me and after July 1, I will be more involved.”
Pochettino said that he was not prepared to talk about the past and the failures of last season when the club finished 12th in the Premier League. He refused to discuss whether he had been involved in the decision to let Mason Mount join Manchester United for £60 million. “I have been talking about the players who are here and the players who can come to the squad.
“He [Mount] is a Manchester United player now and for sure he loves the club [Chelsea]. I don’t know what happened in the past. We need to be focussed on the players who are committed to the club and try to build a very nice plan.”
Pochettino knows that expectations are high as the new Chelsea manager – AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Pochettino added: “My target is to win. If you are at a club like Chelsea you can’t just talk about doing a nice job and playing well. That is of course our style and philosophy and culture … but it is to win. If you don’t win then for sure you will struggle.”
Pochettino did not refer to Tottenham Hotspur once by name although he did say he was “proud of his past” that includes his time as manager of one of Chelsea’s great rivals. He said that the west London club had “the greatest history of the last 10-15 years … in their men’s and women’s teams”.
Pochettino said that his initial meetings had been with Winstanley and Stewart before he met with Boehly and Eghbali. “I am not a coach that needs to ask for power and put a clause in my contract that says I need this or that,” Pochettino said. “First of all I need to build the trust in me and so the players and the fans trust in my decisions and the way we operate.”
On the question of Romelu Lukaku’s future. Pochettino said all parties knew where they stood. “In that case he needs to come back on the 12th or 13th [July] and be part of the squad and start the pre-season.” He said that he would expect the striker to come and see him privately in his office, as he would all his players.
Mauricio Pochettino’s first press conference as Chelsea manager — as it happened
03:29 PM BST
No great surprises, but he’s talked the talk.
That went pretty much according to script. Pochettino expressed positivity and the need to move on from last season, he was evasive on Spurs, and eloquent about the expectation to win. There were questions regarding Lukaku and the identity of Chelsea’s next club captain. Poch didn’t give straight answers to either of them, really, but then it is early days in his fledgling Chelsea career. He asserts that Chelsea have to start winning immediately, and that he doesn’t “need time” – that will go down well with the fanbase.
03:15 PM BST
The elephant (not?) in the room
The broadcast is now over and one notable topic was skipped over by the new Chelsea boss…
Matt Law: “Pochettino did not say the ‘T’ word once in almost half-an-hour.”
File photo dated 09-04-2019 of Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino.
03:11 PM BST
The Lukaku conundrum
And now a question about the disgruntled striker. Poch replies that the first step will be to talk to each player when they report to Cobham for duty. Nothing concrete there.
Belgium’s forward Romelu Lukaku (R) and Estonia’s defender Marten Kuusk vie for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2024 group F qualification
03:07 PM BST
A new captain?
Poch is asked who the leadership might switch to in the wake of Azpilicueta’s departure. He points out that he doesn’t know his squad well enough just yet.
Chelsea’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino attends a press conference at Stamford Bridge in London on July 7, 2023, as he is introduced to the media as the new Chelsea Head Coach.
03:04 PM BST
A direct quote sent in by Matt Law – an eloquent passage from Poch.
Pochettino on the expectations: “In football, no patience. In Chelsea, you can’t ask for time. You need to deliver from day one. Football is about today. We cannot tell the people we need six months to create something. We need to create the belief from the beginning. From day one, we need to think about to win. We need to be ready to beat Liverpool in the first game.”
03:02 PM BST
Chequebook out, Todd…
Matt Law writes that “Pochettino is asked what the biggest challenge is at Chelsea – he says he’s trying to to think about it and that he needs to ‘finish’ the squad and have a ‘very balanced’ squad. Sounds like he wants some more signings.”
A journo points out that a host of great managers have struggled at Chelsea and asks what the negotiation process was like for his appointment. He describes it as “honest”, and adds that he is “not the type of manager who needs to ask for power.”
02:58 PM BST
Battle of the Bridge
A question comes in about that infamous game with his former club. Poch clarifies that he is “fully committed to Chelsea”. And he is also asked if he is new “the Special One”. He circumnavigates that question by asserting that he intends to build a team to compete with Liverpool, City et al. Pochettino also reveals he spoke to Noni Madueke and Levi Colwill on Thursday. He points out he knew Noni from his time at Tottenham. The pair will play for England in the final of the Under-21 Championships on Saturday.
02:55 PM BST
Pochettino keeps mum for now…
Matt Law points out that we’ve “still no ‘T’ word… we’ve been going nearly 12 minutes now”.
02:53 PM BST
He is asked what success looks like this season for Chelsea
He answers, “to win.” And now he is asked about Todd’s influence over transfers, but he says he is happy with the strategy.
02:49 PM BST
Poch dismisses “the past”
The Argentine dismisses a question about Chelsea’s previous season as “in the past” and emphasizes the need to “refocus” and “move on”.
02:46 PM BST
And we’re off – finally.
There’s the usual guff about pride, gratitude and “best league in the world” rhetoric. Questions open straight away with the Spurs line of attack – Poch is evasive. He waxes lyrical about Chelsea, its history and the need to create a competitive team.
02:38 PM BST
No movement yet on the Chelsea digital channels…
Maybe they’ve sacked him already. Early disclaimer; your blogger today is a devout and long-suffering Spurs fan. This rankles. I’ll do my best to keep my emotions in check but no promises.
COBHAM, ENGLAND – JULY 4: Assistant Head Coach Jesus Perez and Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino of Chelsea during a training session at Chelsea Training Ground
02:26 PM BST
Welcome along, all
Chelsea are reminiscent of that wealthy uncle who rinses through wives and divorces on a sort of biannual basis; this is their fifth permanent managerial appointment since Sarri departed in 2019, not including Frank Lampard’s interim window. Chelsea fans, though, must feel optimistic that Mauricio Pochettino’s pedigree as a Premier League manager can right the jaw dropping wrongs of last season. Matt Law reckons the players can expect a gruelling fitness regime – one that Kyle Walker described as “horrible”. You can read the rest of his insight here:
02:02 PM BST
Mauricio Pochettino will speak to the assembled media at Stamford Bridge today for the first time since his appointment as new head coach of Chelsea.
The former Spurs boss has a colossal task on his hands as he and his coaching staff set about picking up the pieces of a shambolic 2022/23 season by Chelsea standards, with the team finishing 12th in the Premier League, statistically their worst ever season. This was despite a massive influx of expensive signings by American owner Todd Boehly. Pochettino is likely to field questions on his vision for Chelsea, as well as how he plans to utilise the squad of high-profile players currently contracted to the club. There have been some big name departures already this summer, including Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante. He will also have to contend with speculation over Romelu Lukaku’s future, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic, like Lukaku, also all want to leave the club. In terms of possible transfers in, Moises Caicedo is their main target, but Chelsea have thus far refused to meet Brighton’s whopping £100 million valuation of the midfielder.
Pochettino may also face scrutiny over his comment earlier this week that Chelsea have been the “greatest team in England” in the last 15 years, despite his affiliation with their London rivals Tottenham. The 51-year-old, who led Spurs to a Champions League final, was asked on Monday how important Chelsea’s successful history was to him, and replied: “I think it’s important and it’s a culture of winning. In the last 10, 12, 15 years, Chelsea is the greatest team in England. I know very well the Premier League and what the culture of Chelsea means.”
The press conference is scheduled to start at 2:30; stay tuned here for live updates and reaction.
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