Mauricio Pochettino’s Managerial Year at Chelsea in Review

July 1st, 2024 would have made it exactly 365 days since the West London club signed the Argentine manager, Mauricio Pochettino, whom they have now parted ways with – on mutual consent. The player-turned-coach came on board as the manager the summer after Chelsea had their worst run in over 20 years. How was Chelsea like before Pochettino took on the managerial wheel? You can check UIMSA Press article on it here. Given his managerial experience, the Argentine was expected to revive the pride of the club by ushering them back to winning ways. Sentiments around how qualified he is to take the job flew over social media, but what’s undeniable is that he was part of the top coaches available to take the role at the time. After spending a full season coaching the West London side, what were the noticeable changes?

After playing five friendly games – winning three and tying two – Chelsea kickstarted their 2023/2024 Premier league season with a draw against Klopp’s side at the Bridge. Although the Blues dominated for the most minutes of the game, a draw didn’t send enough optimistic messages to the fans that desperately wanted to see their club back up. The next game somehow validated the uncertainty as Moyes’ red-carded side beat Chelsea 3 to 1. West Ham got a red in the 67th minute, with the scoreline at 2-1, and they were still able to put 1 goal past Robert Sanchez in the 90+5 minutes after a penalty call. Their first league win came on the 3rd matchday in a 3-0 win against newly promoted Luton. Their EFL Cup run was quite decent, securing a win against Wimbledon, Brighton, and Blackburn, in their first three games. Still, their league run was a poor sight to behold. After the win against Luton, they only won 3 out of their next 10 league meetings – tying 3 and losing 4. From a Chelsea fan, they could have won their first game against Nottingham Forest, avoided a loss and draw against Aston Villa and Arsenal, respectively. If Chelsea’s season could have ended any better, these games would have been major determinants.

The only draw that felt ‘interesting’ to the Blues was against Pep’s side at the Bridge – where both Blues went hard against each other. The game started with Haaland’s penalty kick and ended with Palmer’s penalty kick. Despite the below par performance in the league, their EFL run continued with a shootout win against Newcastle after a full-time 1-1 draw but was followed by a loss against Middlesbrough, and then a second-leg win – which qualified them for the next stage – at Stamford Bridge. In Poch’s first league meetings against the other five – of the ‘big six’ – Chelsea drew three matches, won and lost one each. Considering the poor form from the season before, does that count as an upgrade in the slightest form of it? Cole Palmer, their talisman this just concluded season, raked in goals and assists but sadly, most score lines didn’t reflect a desirable result as they ended up with unnecessary draws, most especially in games that the 5th stand thought they could have easily won. The second half of the season was better than the first, judging by numbers of wins, draws, and losses. This can be attributed to the new players figuring how best to dictate the game. Their longest winning streak was the last five league meetings of the season against Tottenham, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Brighton, and Bournemouth, respectively.

Mauricio Pochettino. Source: ESPN.

Once again, while the league campaign was not quite impressive, Chelsea were EFL cup finalists, having lost to Liverpool after extra-time, courtesy of Van Dijk’s 116th minute header.  Chelsea’s run in the Emirates FA Cup was also quite decent. From the round 3 game against Preston that ended a 4-0 win in favour of the Blues, they only had a draw against Aston Villa before they got knocked out at the semis against Manchester City.

Having finished 12th in the 2022/2023 season, it’s quite fair that Pochettino managed them to move 6 positions up the table, ending the 2023/2024 season with 63 points. Their presence at UEFA Europa League next season is dependent on the FA Cup final Manchester derby. If the Blue Manchester lifts the cup, Chelsea will play in Europa; if the Reds do, they’ll replace Chelsea in Europa while the latter plays in the Conference league. Quite a number of Chelsea were content with the season they had, only to be shocked with the news of Pochettino’s resignation from the club, on mutual consent. Right now, the future of the managerial role is not clear and the Blues can only hope that whatever the chemistry is building within the team doesn’t get watered down by the sudden change of managers.

Peter Adeyemo.

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