Soccer

Players must work hard despite Chelsea status and money – Mauricio Pochettino

Chelsea are on course for their second bottom-half league finish in a row.

Mauricio Pochettino has demanded hard work from his Chelsea players
Mauricio Pochettino has demanded hard work from his Chelsea players Mauricio Pochettino has demanded hard work from his Chelsea players (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino warned his players hard work is still required at Chelsea despite the increase to their status and bank balance that comes with joining the club.

A chaotic campaign that has seen the first-team squad decimated by injuries threatens to peter out, with the club marooned in 12th place ahead of the visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.

It comes five days after the league’s second-bottom side Burnley left west London with a 2-2 draw despite playing the whole of the second half with 10 men, as relations between the club and its supporters seemed to sink further into discord.

The club has an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley to come later in the month, likely to be their only chance of salvaging a dismal season.

Chelsea’s season took another turn for the worst against Burnley
Chelsea's season took another turn for the worst against Burnley Chelsea’s season took another turn for the worst against Burnley (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Chelsea are on course for their second bottom-half league finish in a row and Pochettino called on his players to use the final weeks of the campaign to follow his own hard-working example and show supporters why they were signed as part of a £1billion overhaul of the squad.

“When I was in Espanyol, my first job as a coach, I was on the training ground at seven o’clock every morning,” said the Argentinian.

“Then I moved to Southampton, six-thirty. Then Tottenham, seven. Then Paris (St Germain), six in the morning. Now six forty-five. You can ask the guy on security.

“It’s not going to change after 15 years. My passion is here. My motivation is football. You increase your bank account but that cannot put me in a comfortable zone to say ‘now I will arrive at nine o’clock and leave at two o’clock’. I need to keep pushing myself.

“If (a player) arrives from another club where there was less money, less expectation but now I arrive here because people believe I am so good, what do I need to do? It’s to arrive early, it’s to work more, it’s to run more, be focused more.

“It’s more responsibility now. We feel that responsibility.”

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust wrote to the owners and senior management last month to communicate their dismay at the direction the club is taking under the leadership of Todd Boehly’s Clearlake Capital consortium.

The letter warned of potentially irreparable damage that is being done to the relationship between the club and its supporters, as the team has gone from being Champions League regulars to a mid-table side in less than two years.

Pochettino rejected the suggestion players have already adopted the view that the season is doomed and there is little left to salvage.

“If you are in a comfort zone, you drop in your level, you drop in your standard,” he said. “I don’t say that that has happened here. Too many other things have happened.”