The Ex Tottenham and PSG COACH has done the unthinkable by taking over at Stamford Bridge, but it’s a move that makes sense, despite his Spurs love affair
After an exhaustive and exhausting search for a permanent manager, Chelsea’s co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart have found their man: Mauricio Pochettino.
It was unthinkable that the cherished former Tottenham boss would ever take charge of another Premier League club, let alone one of Spurs’ greatest rivals, but the concept of Pochettino taking his seat in the Stamford Bridge dugout is something that Chelsea and Spurs fans alike will have to get used to, with the Argentine’s arrival on an initial two-year deal finally being confirmed on Monday.
It will be a divisive appointment in some quarters, given his seemingly unbreakable bond with the Tottenham fanbase (however one-sided that relationship has become), but he is the ideal candidate to guide Chelsea out of the mess they currently find themselves in and on to better things.
- GettyThe perfect projectThings were supposed to be wildly different at the end of Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali’s first full season as Chelsea owners, especially after two transfer windows of lavish spending.But instead of fighting for silverware, the Blues find themselves out of each cup competition and desperately staving off a descent into the mire of lower mid-table, more than 30 points off the pace set by Premier League leaders Manchester City and second-placed Arsenal.Similarly, but perhaps not as drastically, Pochettino’s stock has dipped since his unceremonious dismissal at Paris Saint-Germain a year ago, but he is still regarded as one of the best in the business and will be keen to prove that at Stamford Bridge – much like another PSG cast-off, Thomas Tuchel, before him.As a result, Pochettino’s arrival cannot be viewed as a top manager joining a top club, but rather a coach with a point to prove joining a team that is in desperate need of galvanising.Chelsea could well be the perfect fit; Pochettino’s reputation is built upon improving struggling teams and helping them to reach their full potential; he guided Southampton to what was their highest-ever Premier League finish in 2013-14, before famously taking a Tottenham side that had been incapable of qualifying for the Champions League to the final of the 2019 edition.That incremental improvement at both clubs has been underpinned by an exciting, front-footed brand of football, and Boehly and Eghbali will be desperate for Pochettino to implement those ideas with an expensively assembled squad bursting with unfulfilled attacking talent.Chelsea and Pochettino are wounded animals, and together they could become something very dangerous.
- (C)Getty ImagesThe longevity Chelsea craveThat’s not to say that Pochettino turned Spurs’ fortunes around as soon as he arrived at White Hart Lane.He only took Tottenham from sixth to fifth in his first season and still missed out on that elusive Champions League place – something Tim Sherwood was effectively sacked for a year prior.The key in north London, though, was that he was given the time and afforded the patience to mould the team in his image, ultimately building something incredibly special over a five-year period and breathing life into the club both on and off the pitch.Given the resources and existing squad that will be at his disposal at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino will back himself to replicate his exploits on the west side of the capital and oversee gradual improvement. A title challenge within the next three seasons should perhaps be the realistic aim.At 51, he is still relatively young, he has previously professed his love of living in London, and he is an advocate for the attacking brand of football the Chelsea owners seem to want their team to play.Boehly and Eghbali had hinted that they wanted a manager for the long-term and there would be patience throughout the bad times, but having pulled the plug on their Graham Potter project very prematurely, they should have some confidence that Pochettino has the credentials to oversee the development of the team for a number of years.