Q&A: What next for Chelsea and departing head coach Mauricio Pochettino?

Chelsea are searching for a new head coach following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino by mutual consent.

The Argentinian led the Blues to the Carabao Cup final and European qualification via a sixth-placed Premier League finish during 11 months in the role.

Here, we take a closer look at the situation at Stamford Bridge.

Why has Pochettino left?

Pochettino, who had another season remaining on the contract he signed last summer, was always set for talks with the club’s owners at the end of the season. The discussions are believed to have been amicable. Yet, while co-owner Todd Boehly had spoken positively about Pochettino’s work, it is thought the board felt the club should have finished higher in the table. Speculation about Pochettino’s future dominated the Premier League run-in and, earlier this month, he claimed leaving early “would not be the end of the world”. Ultimately, differences with the owners regarding the club’s future direction appear to have been insurmountable.

How did the former Tottenham and Paris St Germain boss perform?

In many respects, Pochettino did a good job in testing circumstances. He arrived after Chelsea ended a tumultuous 2022-23 campaign featuring three managers in 12th position – their lowest finish since 1994 – despite spending £747million on transfers. Following a further outlay of around £400m on players, including top-scorer Cole Palmer, he was tasked with gelling a large squad of young talent. Chelsea were in the bottom half of the table as recently as early April. Yet the team firmly clicked into gear in the final weeks of what was bound to be another transitional campaign and were the fourth best performing top-flight club in 2024 – behind champions Manchester City and title challengers Arsenal and Liverpool – to clinch a European spot.

What went wrong for Pochettino?

Eight defeats from 18 games before Christmas left Pochettino with an uphill task to salvage Chelsea’s season. He repeatedly maintained the Blues had performed fairly consistently over the course of the campaign and the early displays were not as bad as results suggested. Wasteful finishing and a string of defensive errors contributed significantly to the initial struggles of the division’s youngest starting XI, which had an average age of 24.2 for the season. Some of Pochettino’s public comments perhaps did not help his position. He claimed not to feel the love of Chelsea’s fans and later conceded his team “gave up” during a 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal. He also suggested journalists were at times taking his words out of context in search of headline-grabbing soundbites.

What next for Chelsea?

Chelsea are now seeking a fourth managerial appointment of the Boehly-Clearlake Capital era following the comings and goings of Graham Potter, Frank Lampard and Pochettino. A host of names have already been linked with the vacancy. Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim and highly-regarded Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna are among the contenders, while Roberto De Zerbi has also been touted following his departure from Brighton. Former Chelsea managers Jose Mourinho and Thomas Tuchel are not thought to be under consideration, but ex-Germany boss Hansi Flick, Stuttgart coach Sebastian Hoeness and Brentford’s Thomas Frank may be in the mix. Pochettino seems to have left solid foundations, but his successor will surely have to hit the ground running with a squad packed with potential.

What next for Pochettino?

The 52-year-old was popular among Chelsea’s players – demonstrated by a series of supportive social media posts following confirmation of his departure – and a difficult season in west London looks unlikely to have tarnished his reputation. Manchester United and Bayern Munich have been suggested as possible destinations for Pochettino this summer. Erik ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford remains uncertain following a hugely disappointing campaign, with Pochettino seen as a strong contender to succeed the Dutchman. Tuchel, who led Chelsea to Champions League glory in 2021 before being replaced by Potter the following year, is set to leave Bayern after the club failed to win the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2012, potentially paving the way for Pochettino to reunite with Harry Kane.

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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