Five reasons why Mauricio Pochettino is underperforming as Chelsea manager

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted he wasn't good enough after the Wolves defeat, and he was right.

Almost forty minutes after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared before the press to apologise to fans who had turned on his team following a damaging 4-2 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League.

For the first time in his Chelsea career, Pochettino looked condemned, disappointed and almost resigned, but he didn't hide, he admitted the team was not good enough, he admitted he was not good enough - and called for support for his players, who sources say looked broken in that dressing room.

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Asked whether his players were good enough for the task at hand, he said: “We are all not good enough at the moment. That is the reality. Myself also, [I am] the first person responsible for this situation and, of course, we showed today that we are not good enough. We didn’t manage the situation properly and no one can be safe. I don’t want to come here and say: 'No I am the best and the players are the worst.' We are all responsible.

“We can apologise to the fans, and then they can [choose whether to] accept. One thing is the perception, another is the reality. The perception is Chelsea should be in a different position, but due to different circumstances we are not there. One maybe because we are not good enough, but the most important thing now is to feel the responsibility.

“We need to accept that this is the organisation and the players we have.”

Pochettino arrived at Chelsea with a reputation for developing young players, following his time at Tottenham where he got the best out of Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Harry Kane. One source close to the Argentinian manager said he impressed so much in his interview for the Chelsea job that he turned the tables and was the one interviewing the sporting directors in a show of real confidence and competence.

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But seven months down the line the cracks are appearing and there are genuine concerns regarding progress on the pitch - and whether the former Spurs boss was the right choice. So where has he failed to deliver?

Lack of identity and playing style

Pochettino guided Tottenham to the League Cup final in his first full season while two third-placed finishes sandwiched a runners-up spot in the Premier League in 2017. He led them to the Champions League final in 2019 before he was sacked.

At the heart of their game was the midfield solidity Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier provided. The team had the creative brain of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli's spectacular goals and Harry Kane's journey from being a one-season wonder to a true Premier League great. They played with aggression, purpose and determination and even if they lost games, they did so playing a brand of football that the fans enjoyed.

At Chelsea, Pochettino has looked a shadow of his former self. His team lacks the aggression that is required to compete at the highest level and even on days they look bright, they crumble at the first sight of resistance. Every top manager has a playing style that is clear to see, the patterns are there even when the results are not encouraging, but despite a promising pre-season, fans have been left scratching their heads more often than not.

Failing to connect with the fans

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One of the reasons Jurgen Klopp became an instant success at Liverpool was that he connected with the fans the moment he walked through the door at Anfield. Even in defeat, he would go over to the home fans to acknowledge their support. These little things mean a lot to the supporters who travel up and down the country to support the team.

Thomas Tuchel was similar, especially on big days, when Chelsea would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, while Jose Mourinho knew how to get Stamford Bridge rocking with his actions on the touchline, or sometimes his inaction.

Pochettino has missed a trick with this one, especially given his Tottenham history. You would think he would have drawn closer to the home fans to create a connection that would serve as the oxygen to his young team. It's not too late, if he is going to be a success here, getting closer to the fans will help.

Get the best out of Caicedo and Enzo

It is fair to say that Graham Potter did a better job at getting the best out of Enzo Fernandez than Mauricio Pochettino has done. The World Cup winner has played in every position in midfield under Pochettino, from deep-lying player maker to a central midfielder and more recently as a supporting striker.

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The results, though, have been similar and fellow big-money signing Moises Caicedo has been nowhere near good enough. Their struggles at Anfield highlighted a coaching problem.

Last summer Klopp was willing to break the bank for Caicedo. He was reportedly disappointed that the Ecuadorian preferred Chelsea to his Liverpool side, but he would have been laughing after seeing what the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister did to the Chelsea midfielder in the 4-1 win last week. Pochettino has to get a tune out of those two to stand a chance of succeeding.

Goal-scoring problems persist

Cole Palmer has scored 10 league goals and Nicolas Jackson, despite being away for the AFCON, has seven but the number of big chances Chelsea miss highlights a bigger problem. Against Wolves, Raheem Sterling missed a good chance that would have brought Chelsea back into the game. Jackson failed to net a header that was harder to miss than to score.

It has been widely reported that Chelsea are in the market for a proven goalscorer, but Pochettino would do well to get goals all over the pitch. The traits of all top teams is to find goals from everywhere and crucially the midfield. Conor Gallagher, despite being one of the players with the most minutes, is still waiting for his first league goal this season. The story is the same with Moises Caicedo while Fernandez has two in more than a year at the club.

Lack of discipline

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Chelsea are the most undisciplined team in the Premier League, with 73 yellow cards, four more than second-placed Sheffield United. Against Wolves Pochettino had to withdraw Malo Gusto and Caicedo as both were walking a tightrope. Top teams commit fouls but they do so cleverly. Chelsea get caught and that is a sign of naivety and a clear lack of discipline. Chelsea sources say Pochettino is safe for now, but this is a results-oriented business and the next few games will tell us whether he will be here for the long term, or he is a 'deadman walking' as some sources suggest.

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