Soccer

Every day’s a school day for Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino likened his Chelsea role to that of a university professor (John Walton/PA)
Mauricio Pochettino likened his Chelsea role to that of a university professor (John Walton/PA) Mauricio Pochettino likened his Chelsea role to that of a university professor (John Walton/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino likened his role at Chelsea to that of a university professor as he seeks to install a more robust mentality in an inexperienced squad.

The team suffered a second-half collapse to go down 4-1 at injury-hit Newcastle last weekend, bringing an abrupt end to their recent run of impressive results.

With an average age of just over 23, Chelsea have the youngest squad in this season’s Premier League, though expectation has been driven sky-high by co-owner Todd Boehly spending more than £1billion during the last 18 months.

That investment had looked finally to be paying dividends after recent results which included a 4-1 victory away at previously unbeaten Tottenham and thrilling home draws against last season’s top two, Arsenal and Manchester City.

But at St. James’ Park they were routed by Eddie Howe’s side, losing captain Reece James to a second-half red card as the hosts scored three times in 23 minutes to inflict a second loss in seven games.

Ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Brighton at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino emphasised his role as mentor in helping his players come of age.

“You need to approach like you’re a professor of a university,” he said. “Sometimes you need to accept it’s not bad intention (from the players).

“Sometime they can’t perform because they didn’t understand our message, so we have to analyse ourselves to explain in a different way.

“They need to learn. On the pitch they need to make decisions for themselves. It’s a process.

“Of course I trust in the club, the players, the squad. It’s only a matter of time.”

The Newcastle loss was marked by an uncharacteristically poor performance from veteran defender Thiago Silva, whose costly error allowed Joelinton to make it 3-1 and effectively kill the game.

Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva Thiago Silva was at fault for Newcastle’s third goal in their 4-1 rout of Chelsea (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Pochettino defended the 39-year-old and insisted on the importance to a young squad of a player with almost 900 professional appearances for club and country.

“The more experienced players can deal better with pressure and with mistakes,” he said. “With (Silva’s) experience, he can deal with mistakes.

“That’s a help because it’s one player less to manage, we can focus more on the younger players. That’s how he’s helping us.”

Pochettino added that the week since the defeat on Tyneside has been spent analysing why the team capitulated so readily in the face of Newcastle’s pressure.

“It’s like when you go to the doctor because you have some pain in your body,” he said. “First of all, the doctor needs to do some analysis, then to detect the problem, then to give the solution, the medicine.

“It’s the same. It’s to identify why that happened. Then you attack the problem with a solution.

“It’s a young team that needs to be more mature and consistent. These ups and downs can happen. But now we need to realise why it happens in a young team, we need to emphasise different areas, to anticipate these type of situations in future.”