BY PAUL LAGAN
Mauricio Pochettino is starting to realise that Chelsea are in a critical state as the festive period approaches.
Following their disastrous 4-1 defeat at Newcastle last weekend, the west Londoners stay 10th in the Premier League with little sign that they are going to progress sufficiently to challenge for a Champions League place – something the new owners are desperate to achieve.
Prior to the debacle at St James’ Park, the Argentine head coach had protected his charges from criticism.
But his post-match comments were a turning point in his attitude to the players and indicated he is no longer going to let them hide from criticism from within.
He said: “I was really frustrated and disappointed with the performance.
“We were never connected with the game. Even when we scored, it was a moment to go on but the team was never with the right energy to go and compete. We need to blame ourselves.”
He accepted that mistakes happen in football – Thiago Silva’s one for a needless goal was painful, but it wasn’t that which upset him most.
He said: “I am not talking about mistakes. We were not prepared in the best way to compete – that is my concern. We thought we were ready to compete but we didn’t in the way the competition demanded.
“Even if Newcastle were not great, it was an easy win for them.
“It was so easy the way that we conceded goals, the way we were soft in every single challenge and we did not show we were playing for something important.
“These types of games make me very, very, very, very, very angry because it is about showing more personality and character.
“We can not miss this type of opportunity to show our best.
“We cannot come from Tottenham, (win 4-1) Man City, (draw 4-4) where around the world people praised Chelsea and then ‘okay – I stop one step before, I don’t make the effort in the right moment’.
“That is a problem. We need to be more solid in this area. It is about showing more strength in our mental game and being ready to compete.
“I can play football and you can play football….but to compete? I want to be ready to compete but at Newcastle we didn’t.”
Pochettino admitted his players may have been overconfident when they found out Newcastle had 13 players unavailable with three goalkeepers named on their bench.
He said: “That is about being mature and knowing that you cannot see the opponent, you cannot care about the opponent, you need to go and compete at your best.
“That is the problem, that we didn’t show this capacity to compete. The team against us was a very good team. It is not about three keepers on the bench or not. It is about the way we competed so softly, we didn’t show we were competing for something very important.”
Chelsea face Brighton on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
PICTURE: PAUL LAGAN
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:
“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ