Pochettino has key Chelsea backing before review to decide his future

Pochettino has key Chelsea backing before review to decide his future

Mauricio Pochettino has the support of key figures at Chelsea before an end-of-season review that will determine his future. The manager has been under pressure for much of his first campaign at Stamford Bridge but is on increasingly strong ground after guiding his young side to within touching distance of Europa League qualification thanks to a four-match winning run.

Chelsea rose to sixth after beating Brighton 2-1 on Wednesday and go into the final day with a chance of pipping Tottenham to fifth place.

Prominent figures in the Chelsea hierarchy believe the wisest move would be to keep Pochettino, who joined on a two-year deal, with the club option of a third year. It remains to be seen whether the controlling co-owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, will stick with the Argentinian but there is a growing feeling he will stay.

There are indications that some board members are undecided on Pochettino, although any move to make a change would need to be a unanimous decision. Boehly and Clearlake, the private equity company managed by Behdad Eghbali and Jose E Feliciano, would have to sign off on Pochettino’s exit. Sources believe the club were leaning towards sacking the 52-year-old a few weeks ago, only for positive results to alter the picture.

The uncertainty affected Pochettino, who suggested he could decide to leave once next week’s review has taken place. He has spoken about wanting more control over signings and has made critical noises about Chelsea’s sporting directors, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart.

There is a determination at Chelsea to ensure Pochettino does not feel undervalued before the review, which will be overseen by Winstanley and Stewart, with input from the owners. There is appreciation for how the former Tottenham manager has overcome a variety of challenges. Although Chelsea have missed out on Champions League qualification after spending more than £1bn on signings, it is felt that finishing sixth would be a fine achievement.

Boehly has praised the team’s form, saying Chelsea have played “beautiful football” during their recent run, and this week spoke about the importance of long-term planning. “The No 1 thing is you have got to be patient,” the American said. “You are putting something together and expecting it to come together really quickly, and the reality is anything really good takes a little bit of time. And so I think patience was always a thought.”

That view has been echoed by others at Chelsea, the feeling being that it would be counterproductive to make a change. Pochettino has the firm support of the dressing room and has made sense of a hastily assembled squad. A policy of signing the best young talent in the world left Chelsea short of experience and leaders. Pochettino has had to be a mentor for his youngsters and cope with a massive injury list.

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Chelsea are fourth in the form table since Christmas and his impact can be seen in the performances of Nicolas Jackson, Malo Gusto, Moisés Caicedo, Cole Palmer, Trevoh Chalobah, Noni Madueke and Conor Gallagher. The return of key players from injury has also given Pochettino more options in recent games.

Others inside the club have also been quick to praise Stewart, Winstanley and the co-director of recruitment and talent Joe Shields for their work in the transfer market. The recruitment team have faced criticism this season but Chelsea believe they are proving the doubters wrong. Stewart and Winstanley are in no danger of losing their jobs.

Source: theguardian.com