Mauricio Pochettino urges patience with Chelsea new boys
Mauricio Pochettino said it is unrealistic to expect Chelsea’s summer recruits to be playing their best football for the club already, despite upwards of £350million having been spent so far this transfer window.
The team is winless after the manager’s first two games in charge with one point on the board in the nascent Premier League table, with flashes of good play having been punctuated by inconsistency as was the case in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to West Ham.
Their plight has been worsened by injuries to goalscorer Carney Chukwuemeka, who was forced off at half-time having equalised for his side and is expected to miss six weeks, and winger Mykhailo Mudryk who will also miss Friday’s meeting with Luton at Stamford Bridge.
The pair join summer signing Christopher Nkunku and defender Wesley Fofana as long-term injury absentees whilst none of Reece James, Benoit Badiashile, Armando Broja or Trevoh Chalobah are ready to return.
On Thursday the club confirmed the £17m signing of Brazilian forward Deivid Washington from Santos, though the 18-year-old may be sent out on loan rather than join the first team straight away.
It leaves Pochettino relying on new faces finding their feet quickly as the team look to win for just the sixth time in their last 32 league matches when newly promoted Luton visit west London.
But after record buy Moises Caicedo, signed from Brighton for a fee likely to rise to £115m, became the latest player to endure a torrid time in blue when he conceded a penalty on his debut at the London Stadium, the manager called for perspective on the pace of change taking place at Chelsea.
“(It’s unrealistic) if we expect today the best of Caicedo, (Romeo) Lavia, (Axel) Disasi, all the players that arrived in the last moments, with only a few days working with us and starting to compete,” he said.
“Of course, if we see the perception of these players and we expect the best of them, yes we should win every single game.
“But at the moment the form of them, we need to provide the tools to improve every day. The way that we are playing, the platform and the structure of the team, gives us the signal that we are in a good way. It’s only a matter of time to put it all together and start to perform.
“With the situation (with transfers) in and out, next week when the transfer window has closed it’s going to be easier also to put it all together. I have no doubt about the quality of the squad.”
With an average age of 23.7 years Pochettino has the Premier League’s youngest squad, following the club’s policy of signing promising players of relatively little experience and tying them to long contracts – in Caicedo’s case up to nine years.
The manager admitted he still needs to sign a goalkeeper, after Kepa Arrizabalaga joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan, and another forward player, but he insisted that any further buys should not bar the path of academy graduates and other young players to the first team.
Albania international Broja, who has been at the club since he was 12, is expected to play a part as a number nine when he is fit to return.
“We need to wait with Armando,” said Pochettino. “He’s close but sometimes the last step is always difficult after the injury that he suffered. He’s training well and we have hope.
“It’s easy to say we need another offensive player. We have offensive players, they need to recover.
“If you bring in a player that maybe is not fit or needs to adapt to the Premier League, you’re going to spend the same time you need to wait for Broja or Nkunku or for Carney. You’re going to create a mess in the squad.
“We will win, we will succeed in the way that the players will buy into the ideas and the philosophy and the way that we play, it’s only a matter of time. (But) it’s a process we cannot force to go quick. I think it’s about working on the confidence.”
The manager added that nothing has changed regarding Romelu Lukaku’s situation, with the striker still training away from the first team and keen to leave before the transfer deadline, but he refused to fully close the door on a possible return.
“Things can change. This is football. I saw (Jurgen) Klopp said ‘I will not be in the business (if Liverpool spend £100m)’ and then they offered £100m (for Caicedo) and he says, oh I made a mistake, and something changed.”
Caicedo is expected to make his full debut against Luton but fellow new signing Lavia “needs a few more weeks to assess”.