Chelsea hierarchy split on Conor Gallagher future as Poch’s focus switches to FA Cup tie


Chelsea will be keeping their fingers crossed that tomorrow’s start of their  FA Cup campaign won’t be going down to the last minute of the game.

Championship outfit Preston North End are the visitors to the Bridge for a third round tie and the Blues will be hoping that whatever team head coach Mauricio Pochettino puts out won’t be hanging onto a win by their fingernails – as they did last Saturday at Luton, nor relying on a last-gasp penalty which secured all three points the previous Wednesday against Crystal Palace.

These are turbulent times in SW6.

The west Londoners are treading water in the Premier League, currently stuck in 10th place.

Tomorrow’s 5.30pm kick-off is a respite from the trials and tribulations of the league. The game was selected by the BBC for what they are hoping will be a TV cup shock exit for the Blues.

Who knows, they could be right.

And that’s the thing with Chelsea – you can’t quite work out which version of them is going to turn up.

Putting aside players unavailable due to injuries or suspensions, it could be that Preston will be blown away by a combination of scintillating counter-attacks and clinical high quality finishing.

It’s equally possible, that in the parlance of modern coaches and commentators, the North-West outfit will apply a ‘low block’ – be ultra defensive to you and me – and do it so well that the Blues will be huffing and puffing without getting close to their goal, ultimately being reduced to passing the ball between themselves across the halfway line.

But Pochettino, speaking after the 3-2 victory at Luton, is feeling positive for 2024. He said: “It was really important to finish 2023 well, and we look forward to 2024 to start well also. Really good to finish with good feelings and good to go into the new year with momentum.”

With the transfer window open, it’s believed that it’s a case of selling before buying.

Conor Gallagher remains the highest profile Chelsea player who could be exiting SW6 this month.

It will be the first time that Pochettino will seek to overturn the desire of the two directors of football’ to offload the midfielder, should an acceptable bid be made.

Pochettino wants the 23-year-old to stay but Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley are of the mind to bring  in serious cash to aid compliance with FFP regulations – Gallagher’s fee is considered pure profit as he came through the academy.

Trevoh Chalobah is also expected to recover from his long-term injury this month and just in time to be sold – Bayern Munich are still keen on the defender.

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer celebrates scoring their side’s third goal of the game during the Premier League match at Kenilworth Road, Luton. 

Pochettino said of any possible transfer activity: “That is a thing to talk about with the owners and sporting directors.

“Always we have very good communication. We are not worried about that. We are going to assess now.

“We will talk and see if we need to do something or not. The most important  thing, in my opinion, is to work with the squad.”

Even if no one comes in or goes, the Argentine believes his existing squad is good enough to get into Europe.

He said: “Of course it is.  I really believe in my players.  We need to recover the players that are injured. We have had some setbacks with players like Romeo Lavia. It is to be focused, that is our job to help the players improve every day.”

Chelsea’s women structure could be altered in the wake of head coach Emma Hayes leaving at the end of the season to become boss of the US women’s national side

The club will look to integrate the department more. It could lead to changes in job descriptions of some long-standing members of staff.

Hayes’ first-team coach, American Denise Reddy, is expected to follow Hayes to the US and assist her.

The club hopes to have Hayes’ replacement by the middle of February.

General manager Paul Green is also expected to stay on.


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